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Songlines & Sightlines text

by bacblogarts

Warami. Hello.

Budyari Naadyuwunya Dharug nurawa!

Good to see you on Dharug Country!

On the walls are images, stories and histories relating to Blacktown.

They have been created by the artists for you to colour in and contribute.

COLOUR IN  the images

DRAW OR WRITE  your own images, stories and connections

What are songlines?

Songlines are the Dreaming pathways that the ancestral beings travelled along to create country while singing the land to life. Songlines are the oral maps connecting all countries and people together while guiding them across the lands as they travel; Dharug people sing stories of the landscape teaching them the locations, migration and significance of each place.

 About the images

Reception and entry: Before the Dreaming

On the front desk are yanada and gimbawali (the moon and stars), which symbolise the darkness before the Dreaming. Opposite the Gallery 1 entrance is the maryung (emu) in the sky, the emu that appears in the dark areas of what is otherwise known as the Milky Way.

Gallery 1: Creation Story & Blacktown Past, Present, Future

The creation story starts with barabiyanga (the first sunrise). The narran (lyrebird) appears first because it has all the sounds of the other birds and animals. In the sky are two brown birds, who were created before the other birds got their colours.

In the Gurungatty (creation eel) story, the marriyagang (tiger quoll) and guwali (cormorant) chase Gurungatty across the country, which created the landforms. Gurungatty is still in his resting place in the rivers.

The burumurring (eagle) was sent down into the landscape to create the land animals. There is always a wangan (crow) behind the eagle – watch out for them next time in the sky! The wali (possum) and the wirimba (bat) are the Dharug totems for women and men respectively.

There is a woman in a gunya (traditional home), showing the start of people. Notice the maryung (emu) footprints begin here, representing the people songline. In Dharug culture, there is no distinction between animals, humans, plants, land or water — we are all connected. The footprints and animals continue clockwise to show the direction of the songline.

Meeting places are shown as concentric circles surrounded by U shapes, which represent people sitting, with various tools beside them. There are meeting places drawn throughout the exhibition with some left empty for you to complete with your own U symbols and tools.

The fence symbolises the start of colonisation. The large building and map show the Blacktown Native Institution. This is where children were held when they were forcibly removed from their families by the government. These policies and practices became the start of what we now know as the Stolen Generations. Notice the women mourning in the bullrushes for their children. St Bartholomew’s Church is where Bolongaia is buried. Also known as Maria Lock, she was the daughter of Yarramundi and a significant Dharug woman in the history of this area.

The concentric circles joined by lines signifies a body of water. This one represents Prospect Reservoir. The garraway (white cockatoo) feathers with the meeting place symbol represents weddings. This is shown next to a wedding scene at Nurragingy Reserve. Near the scenes of the suburbs and Flushcombe Rd, there is a meeting place symbol with lots of people gathered, representing all the many people who now call Blacktown home. Underneath the image of a fruit shop in Rooty Hill, there are coolamon filled with native foods.

The scar tree shows the completion of the cycle, with the emu footprints going up into the sky. At the completion of life, we enter the stars and await to come back to the earth.

Gallery 2: Healing space

The water wall shows animals that live in or near the water, as well as narrami (fishing net), murrira (fishing line), gamay (spear) and nawi (canoe).

The healing wall shows the senior Elders who frequent Blacktown Arts — Uncle John, Uncle Greg, Uncle Wes, Aunty Edna, Uncle Allan and Aunty Julie. Surrounding the Elders is the warada (waratah), which symbolises healing, love and beauty. The flannel flower represents emotional, mental and physical healing. Nearby a dyurali (brolga) is dancing, showing love and respect.

The medicines wall shows different medicines that are important for Dharug people: guman (casuarina), wadungal (wattle), yarra dyirang (gum leaf), gum nuts, Indigofera, waraburra (Hardenbergia), flannel, flax lily, wigay (berries) and gadyal (smoke).

Dharug language word list:

minak
barabiyanga
yanada
gimbawali
warrawal
guwing
Dharug nurawa
narran
Gurangatty
maryung
marriyagang
guwali
burumurring
wangan
gudugulung
magura
burra
wali
wirimba
dingu
guganagina
buru
yurungay
gulamany

darkness
before sunrise
moon
stars
milky way
sun
Dharug Country
lyrebird
creation eel
emu
tiger quoll
cormorant
eagle
crow
turtle
fish
eel
possum
bat
dingo
kookaburra
kangaroo
duck
koala

mulgo
gurraway                     
wirriga
garranga bumarri
gugurruk
dyurali                      
wadanggari
guman
wadungal
yarra                            
yarra dyirang
waraburra
wigay                          
warada
bamuru / durawuyi
duruwan            
gadyal                          
gunya
nawi
dyuguma
narrami
murrira
gamay

black swan
white cockatoo
goanna
pelican
blue-faced honeyeater
brolga
banksia
casuarina
wattle
Eucayptus
gum leaf
Hardenbergia
berries
waratah
grass
fruit
smoke
traditional home
canoe
net bag
net
fishing line
spear

We acknowledge the Dharug people, the Traditional Custodians of this Land. We pay our respects to Dharug Elders past and present, and thank them for their Custodianship. Thank you to Dharug Knowledge Holders Leanne Mulgo Watson and Erin Wilkins for providing cultural knowledge and language for this project. This always was and always will be Dharug Nurawa.

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