Like the electrical charge building before a storm breaks over a mountain range, there is a powerful energy building over the Bunya Mountains in the South Burnett — but it has nothing to do with rain.
A major event is in the making for the 2014 bunya nut season on the Bunya Mountains, which will mark the first major gathering of Traditional Owners and other Bunya Peoples at this important cultural site since the large boyne boyne festivals of yesteryear. The last of these gatherings took place after the First World War, before the surrounding land and songlines were fragmented by settlement.
A recent Bunya Mountains Murri Ranger Community Day has pre-empted this major event, attracting 300 people to the mountains — an important first step toward a strong revival of cultural gatherings for the Bunya Peoples.
An emotional Welcome to Country was led by Uncle Bert Button, followed by a traditional smoking ceremony. Throughout the day, the Bunya Mountains Murri Ranger (BMMR) team, Wakka Wakka dancers and yarning circles provided insights into traditional cultural practices and stories, emphasising the importance of reconnecting fire, culture and country on the Bunya Mountains.
Yarning circles were open to all, though the Elders Circle drew the largest gathering, a mark of respect for the depth and value of their cultural knowledge about the mountains. Visitors learned first-hand about work being achieved by the Rangers and their future plans during a guided bus tour of the grassland balds, led by Rangers, Nathan Collins and Maurice Mickelo.
It is the culturally appropriate sharing of knowledge and stories hand-in-hand with active management of the cultural landscape or ‘country’ that gives rise to movement toward cultural revival.
Years of hard work by the Bunya Peoples’ Aboriginal Corporation (BPAC) and the Bunya Mountains Murri Rangers supported by the Burnett Mary Regional Group and state and local governments is coming to fruition, as was recognised nationally with BPAC and BMMR being awarded the 2012 Leighton Holdings National Indigenous Landcare award and being finalists in the Banksia Awards in the Indigenous Caring for Country category.
The Rangers say it is their acknowledgment of the Traditional Custodians of Queensland and their ongoing connection and obligation to care for country that forms the basis for the Rangers’ work, guided by BPAC.
The BPAC and BMMR programs have recently been granted another five years of funding through the Australian Government’s Working on Country Program. This is great news for the continuation of re-connecting culture and country in the Bunya Mountains. Check out the NITV clip from the Bunya Mountains Murri Ranger Community Day and the Mojo clip below.
Stay tuned to the BMRG Bulletin for further news of the 2014 Boyne Boyne Festival. Subscribe to the Bulletin by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.