Friday, June 12, 2009

Yamuloong Aboriginal Bush Tucker Trail!

Gareth had his class excursion today. I was really lucky to be asked along as a parent helper. The bus was already full of about 70 six and seven year old kids so I got to travel with two other mums in a car. From the look on the teachers faces as they fell out the door of the bus at the destination I think we had made the right choice!

We went to the Yamuloong Aboriginal center and went on a bush tucker trail! The people running the center were of Aboriginal descent. They asked us to acknowledge the ground we walked on as belonging to the Awabakal people and asked us to observe 1 minutes silence before the day began. I watched in amazement as the large group of excited kids closed their eyes and bowed their heads and stayed utterly silent until the Aboriginal guide clapped his hand to signal the end of the minute. He too seemed impressed and thanked them and said that they had never had a group of such young kids manage this feat before.

We set off down the zig-zag paths through the gum trees. We stopped at plants and trees along the way and were told about the medicinal and culinary purpose and use of each tree, its nectar, seeds, leaves. It was fascinating. We smelt Lemon Myrtle, Aniseed Myrtle, Tea tree. Our senses were bombarded with smells, tastes and sounds.

When we reached the bottom of the trail we found ourselves in a large grassy clearing. We were given Lemon Myrtle Damper, a traditional bread with the added twist of the seeds and oil of the Lemon Myrtle tree. It was so good. I made a really good job of tasting it over and over as each piece had different subtle variations and I wanted to show respect to the chef! Yum!

Next we listened to a softly spoken aboriginal man tell us old stories of the Dreamtime. His voice was barely a whisper and it was hard to catch everything but the kids went still and quiet and tuned into him and looked on in awe as he showed them spears, boomerangs and ancient ceremonial bowls.

Then we moved to a different part of the clearing where a more energetic and spirited guide (our guide from the earlier trail) taught us to dance like the Brolga bird! Us mums were asked to the front to demonstrate as we were supposedly more graceful than our guide but I think we danced more like waddling penguins than elegant Brolgas!

Our final workshop was with the only female guide. She showed the kids how to paint using dots of colour and symbols so each painting told a story. Gareth's painting is a turtle that is camouflaged and hiding against the yellow sand.

Finally it was time to pack up and walk back up the trail to return to the bus back to school. We once again had the peace and calm of the car journey back and were so grateful as the excitement and noise coming from the kids as they piled into the bus was unbelievable. Those poor teachers. It truly is a vocation! Their halo's must have been glowing bright as they put them on their bedposts tonight!

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