Walking Contemporary Indigenous Songlines as Public Pedagogies of Country
The singing and dancing of Darug peoples once echoed throughout the Hawkesbury Nepean riverlands in ceremony. A long and challenging walk through bushland along the Nepean River, from Emu Green to Yarramundi on the Hawkesbury River, invites the walker to meditate on the presences and absences of these river places. Yarramundi is an important site for Darug people today, as it holds the history and cultural memories of singing the rivers in song and ceremony. Walking contemporary Indigenous songlines asks how we can come to know the river through walking the contemporary songlines of Darug songwriters and artists that sing the country of the riverlands today, and what is produced when this is enacted as public pedagogy. The paper explores a process of walking the Nepean River Trail, from my home at Emu Green to the Shaws Creek and Yellomundee Aboriginal cultural trails. The walk is reproduced as public pedagogy with collaborators Leanne and Jacinta Tobin, who have deep family connections to Yarramundi: connections that were temporarily lost through their early lives, and recreated through art, language and music practices in contemporary creations of ancestral songlines and connections. The public pedagogy performance was enacted at the Circular Quay International Passenger Terminal in a presentation of three songs, 73 artworks, and a short explanatory talk to an audience of 700
members of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects. This paper asks: What does this public pedagogy produce? What does it mean to enact it at this historic site of colonial invasion and contemporary arrival of both temporary and permanent immigrants to this landscape?