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Listening to The Land

A Journey to Uluru with Wiruungga Dunggiirr

Written By: Sarah Foster 

If you decide to visit Australia for a sun filled holiday at the beach then you will surely be welcomed by friendly faces and captivated by the biodiverse marine life and stunning coastlines. If you choose, however, to delve a little deeper inland and immerse yourself in the bush amongst the plant medicines and mystical eucalyptus trees, to bathe in crystal bedded, fresh water creeks that maternally cleanse your soul, or to venture through the vast, red desert outback, then it is highly likely that you will come face to face with a world that you had not imagined existing outside of mythical fairy tales.

Australia is a land where tree spirits will appear to you, boldly questioning your intentions, where yowies (sasquatch) might wander through your camp after dusk outlined by the dreamy moonlight, and where every facet of nature has the potential to humble you in it’s presence. From the insects, the rocks, the animals and the trees, if you listen closely, you will learn respect and humility in their purest form. Every creature, every element has a story to tell and teachings to share, but your eyes and ears must be open for you to be gifted with their timeless wisdom.

My recent journey through Australia began camping in Thumb Creek, a picturesque, forested little suburb roughly six hours north of Sydney. What I discovered there my first evening, while sleeping under the stars, was that there was no mistaking that this land wants to be heard. As I lay in my tent, breathing in the fresh night air, a profound feeling came over me. I needed to awaken my deepest consciousness and from that moment forward I had to ask the land permission for every step I would take.

From there my adventure continued on a rainbow coloured bus, home to Wiruungga Dunggiirr of the Namba Gumbaynggar Nation in New South Wales, and his soulmate, Garra, from the Netherlands. Wiruungga and Garra were heading to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and they very kindly invited me to join them to spend time with the sacred rocks and to bring clothing, toys, and books to Mutitjulu, an Aboriginal community located inside the boundary of the park. It would be a week long expedition up to the Northern Territories, and a small glimpse into Wiruungga’s lifetime dedication to “building bridges” between indigenous and non-indigenous people throughout the land. His mission is to let aboriginal communities know that they have not been forgotten, and to teach, by example, the values of sharing and caring. 

Wiruungga runs the Wiruungga Organisation, where he shares his traditional cultural knowledge and the value of permaculture, growing native, medicinal plants, and living in harmony with the land. He inspires young and old to live up to their fullest potential and to live a healthy, drug and alcohol free lifestyle. Through his organization Wiruungga has also helped to create protected areas for existing koala habitats and an awareness about our responsibility towards environmental and wildlife conservation.

Our days together were filled with Dreamtime storytelling, sipping teas brewed with healing plants from the bush, painting, song and dance. At night we camped in reserves abundant with bouncing kangaroos, vivacious colourful birds, and wise, ancient trees all observing our every move.

With some funding, Wiruungga would like to create a Bush University where people would come to stay and learn about native plants and living off the land sustainably. He is also hoping that he can eventually give his rainbow bus a well deserved retirement and purchase a vehicle that could comfortably accommodate more guests for traveling to remote communities to bring them supplies, and for educational and spiritually healing Dreamtime walkabouts in the outback. 

What I will take with me in my heart after this week long journey with exceptionally beautiful people in a land so powerful and vocal in its teachings, is that knowing and respecting the Earth is the centre of Aboriginal people’s wisdom. The only way forward for humanity and our relationship with one another is for all people to understand the spiritual connection with the land, water, plants, sky and animals that indigenous people have. If we can share this connection and discover a deep gratitude within ourselves for all that nature provides us with then we can walk hand in hand in harmony with Mother Earth, creating a prosperous existence for all living beings on this extraordinary planet.

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