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March 8, 2019
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March 21, 2019

Connection to country

By a St Kilda resident

I write this wondering if it might be a way for whitefellah to understand Aboriginal connection to land. It is not intended to trivialise or say that this experience is on the same scale, or that the nature of connection is the same.

I am a St Kilda (Melbourne) resident who uses Albert Park as a place of healing.  It is the place I go to walk, to walk mindfully, to ground.  It is a safe place in nature where I can go to connect, release, relax, unwind, rejuvenate.

And each year the Grand Prix arrives. 

The construction they put up is effectively placed on my walking track.  It is an intrusion into my healing space. My park is replaced by engines.  As I walk around on the grass, the paths and the habitual places I go are no longer accessible, and in the places I can still walk I now hear the sound of construction and hammering in the presence of tradesman.  Over the weekend there will be the noise of engines both from the Grand Prix cars and the helicopters flying people in and out to watch.

It is through this tiny experience I can begin to understand the significance of Country to Aboriginal people and the emotional and physical impact of development over their sacred sites.  

I can start to imagine the pain felt by the Djab Wurrung Elders and people over the proposed plan to remove 3000 trees – including 260 large old-growth trees –  along the Western Highway, 200 kilometres west of Melbourne, as part of planned highway upgrades.

It is said that some of the trees had great cultural as well as environmental significance and “were known as Birthing Trees… used for shelter and for cooking by the local traditional owners”.(https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/800-year-old-tree-could-put-660m-western-highway-project-up-a-stump-20180618-p4zm6u.html)

I have lived in St Kilda for 4 years. The Djab Wurrung have been living amongst those trees, raising their children, for countless generations.

I am thinking these thoughts as I walk around. My healing walk is invaded. My empathy for the dispossessed, however, is heightened.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-25/federal-government-rejects-indigenous-bid-to-save-trees/10749388

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