ADM+S Members at the Cultural Walk. (Left to right) Caitlin Learmonth, Taylor Hardwick, Joanna Williams, Kath Albury, Loup Cellard, Haiqing Yu, Dang Nguyen, Nataliya Ilyushina, Damiano Spina, Sally Storey, Edward Small, Elaine McDonnell, Natalie Campbell, Leah Hawkins

ADM+S Cultural Walk to Dights Falls

Author Natalie Campbell and Sally Storey
Date 12 August 2022

As part of the ADM+S Research Training Program, members of our Melbourne community attended a guided walk last Wednesday along the banks of the Yarra River to learn about the cultural importance of natural landscapes to the Wurundjeri people. We were fortunate enough to be guided by Uncle Bill Nicholson from the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, who shared stories of his ancestors’ rich cultural values and practices, their ongoing connection to land and the significance of this relationship to the wellbeing and identity of the Wurundjeri people.

The tour began with a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony where ADM+S members were invited to partake in the traditional practice before commencing the walk along the Yarra River to Dights Falls—a significant landmark to the Wurundjeri people.

“As a French citizen just arriving in Australia, I felt honoured to be welcomed by Uncle Bill Nicholson through a smoke ceremony and learn about the struggle faced by aboriginals to write their history in their own words,” said Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Loup Cellard from the University of Melbourne.

Learning about Indigenous experiences, perspectives, and knowledge is part of the Centre’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity; encouraging our members to consider the value of ongoing and meaningful reconciliation amongst Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and acknowledging the shared history of the land on which our Centre operates.

Associate Investigator Dr Damiano Spina said, “A couple of things that keep me thinking are: knowing about the ban of Aboriginal languages in Victoria imposed in 1953 is devastating. The questions of what is the Australian culture? What are the Australian values? And who defines them? And I loved learning about the use of possum skins as drums (in addition to clapsticks) by Wurundjeri people!

“I feel privileged to have the opportunity to learn directly from Wurundjeri Elder Bill Nicholson. I was touched by his generosity. The way he was talking about his Ancestors, his ‘Balak’ (People), their resilience, and how they look after Country is inspiring.”