Adjournment speech: Sharing Stories
28 March, 2017
On Sunday, this week, I had the pleasure of attending the Sharing Stories, run by the committee on racial equality, at the Friends Quaker Meeting House. John Blay spoke about the Bundian Way, and shared stores of early interactions between First Nations people, and the early settlers in the Eden, hinterland and the Snowy Mountains.
The Bundian Way is a descriptive name taking its name from the Bundian Pass, in the snowy mountains, which was the easiest walking route from the tablelands of southern NSW to the coastal plains, just south of Merimbula. The route passes through state forest, national park, rural and coastal areas. It begins at Mt Koscuosko, or Targangal as it is known to some of the indigenous peoples, and runs for some 330kms, finishing at Twofold Bay. 2 thirds of the Bundian way lies in national parks and state forests, with much of it untouched by western civilisation. In fact, there are areas where cars have never been, and you can see the track still very clearly.
The stories for the afternoon were told to us by John Blay, the Naturalist author of “On track: searching out the Bundian Way”, who began his work in the 1970’s by immersing himself, traveling the tracks and recording the many stories of the Bundian way.
John shared with us stories and photos of the natural flora and fauna to be found along the Bundian way. He told us a story of the romance of white settlers, who fell in love after traversing the Bundian Way. There were Women’s stories of gathering food, stories of swamps, the good places for growing the Yam daisy, and the scarred trees, where coolamons were removed for carrying the collection of fruits and yams.
He told the story of the people he met, and who helped him, Ozzy and Elder Cruise and their son BJ. He explained the importance of the Bundian way, which was used by the first peoples to travel to celebrations or corroborees, to collect food, such as the Yam Daisies and the Bogan Moths, which he explained tasted amazing, not unlike cashews.
John shared the stores of the government surveyors Townsend and others, who recorded many of the aboriginal names, which we still have access to today. Townsend was the one who first mapped the Bundian way, a resource John used many times during his research and work.
John was particularly interested in the work of Oswald Brierly, who showed great respect for the indigenous people of the day, which in the middle of the nineteenth century was unusual. John showed in detail the painting of life at Bilgalera, now known as Fisheries Beach. And shared a story of the whaling, conducted at the beach with the help of the local knowledge of the indigenous people.
It was an amazingly interesting afternoon, though warm, but it allowed us to be taken on a journey across the indigenous landscape. And learn something more of the indigenous way of life, and the impact of white settlement. It also made me realise again the age of this land, but also that the borders we now recognise do not mean much to the Aboriginal people. It is good to know that work is continuing this amazing pathway.
View the speech at Assembly on Demand