A cultural outsider's view of Country

We are all immigrants in this country. Except the first people.

Most of us love this country, have a love of country and of place but country means something else entirely to Aboriginal people.

I grew up in Port Stephens on the mid-north coast of NSW. For me it is the special place. The smell of the ocean, the green landscape that frames the inner harbour, the whiteness of the fine grained sand. I have lived in Sydney’s inner city for the past twenty five years and that also has a special sense of place for me. Whenever I am away I think about the parklands, the hum of the traffic the bustle of the people….

Soldiers Point, Port Stephens NSW.

Soldiers Point, Port Stephens NSW.

But Indigenous people all over the world have a deeper relationship with their country. A relationship I will never fully experience and barely understand. For Aboriginal people in the far north of the country it is Kujika – songlines from the earth, meditations. They ‘speak to country’ as kin and sense the spirits of their ancestors in country. They see the mountains, the sea, the flora and fauna as kin. Country to Aboriginal people means a spiritual connection to land, evolving from the stories of the creation of people who live on that land. Aboriginal people believe the creator ancestors put Indigenous people on earth to look after the land. The ongoing maintenance of the land, of country, is essential to their health and their identity.