On Saturday 24/10 a group of 7 climbers, and one of their children met with Evan Yanna Muru at Faulconbridge for a Dreamtime tour. The youngest showed us how much the education system has improved in terms of teaching Australians about Aboriginal history and culture as she out shone the rest of us in knowledge.
Evan, whose father was an Indigenous ranger in the Blueys and later Kosciusko NP, has run his own tours for years. It was a wet day, but this did not detract from the experience. We thought the warnings about how to walk in this terrain were a bit overdone, but later looking at trip advisor reviews, slipping over and the “ difficulty” of the walk features in a number of complaints so I can see why that was reinforced.
We were to concentrate the senses on what was around us, the sights, tastes, smell, feel and sounds of country. He explained how that this heightened state of sensory perception was a way of being for Aboriginal people. As we sat on a rock platform in the creek bed next to engravings of a swamp wallaby, Baime and Rainbow serpent motifs, a water dragon appeared as if on cue and added to the scene. Here, and later under various overhangs where we paused on the walk, we gained some early understanding of levels of knowledge; Dreamtime stories; the importance of totems, ritual; the stages, or moons of existence; spirit doctors; symbolism in art, and some appreciation for intangible cultural elements.
Evans personal philosophies on things like vaccinations and illness may not gel with my own, but it is always interesting to understand other people’s perspectives. None of us quizzed him on climbing access, as we were there to learn. However he did ask us what rock climbing means to us, and we tried to explain that climbing is more a way of life than an activity for many people, and that climbing in many aspects is a meditation on movement or a communion with rock that focuses the mind on being in the environment. With his own background in outdoor ed, we were encouraged to hear some of his opinions on the future of climbing, but they are his own and I will not presume to summarise them here.
Also this reference I subsequently looked at covers many of the themes Evan talked about https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/-/media/OEH/Corporate-Site/Documents/Aboriginal-cultural-heritage/indigenous-kinship-with-the-natural-world-new-south-wales.pdf
Author: Vanessa Wills. Photos: Karen Allen, Hugh Ward, David Gray