Katabanut Yarkeen - Coastal Forest Dreaming

While researching the history of the First Nation people in this area for our soon to be launched Beech Forest Historic Walking and Driving Tour, it  became apparent that we had to go beyond the anecdotal chat about how it is too cold and wet in this part of the Otways for indigenous people, there is no history here, that history belongs to the coast, the shorelines, after all we know about the middens there. 

An afternoon spent with Richard Collopy traditional owner and custodian of Gadubanud Country, revealed so much more and was incredibly informative and a privilege as he shared his and his ancestors stories and knowledge of the history of this region. The significance of the place names was particularly enlightening about where Gadubunud and Gulidjan language and customs can be viewed in place names across the Otways;

From Colac sands and murnong lands in the early days we struggled too
Elliminite the name of the one born on the gentle slopes in the setting sun
Every place has a name that gives new purpose and direction to run
For our peoples story you can always see in naming place in song
What may seem distant, forgotten or unknown is as real as the days your soul is born 

While academic research papers and other reference material provided some great information, and indeed Richard showed me a terrific collection of his reference material, nothing will beat these words and beautiful poetry that Richard provided us with. 

Within the Otways and just below the surface both physically and socially today,
silently lie Traditional Songlines harmoniously dancing along rivers, around wetlands,
in seemingly hidden valleys and caves.
The cultural heritage evidence is so rich that it has been mentioned in past archaeological surveys,
that the coastal areas particularly in the Otways displays evidence of intense living landscapes sustaining multiple clan groups,
and even larger trade enterprise due to the bountiful food cycles and in such intense medicinal value. 
From salt and fresh water middens, semi-permanent structures, initiation sites, local trading and tool sites that sit within the walking routes and caves that have always been treated with reverence and adorned periodically with offerings and ceremony.  Though one not see this rest assured that Aboriginal Culture is alive and caretaking is going on.
The Otway's ecology is born from the womb of Gondwanna, the Flora and Fauna are the Creation of her magic and rising from ancient dinosaur times these creatures still live on.  So precious are these gems that in some cases they exist nowhere else in  the world. 
Animal tracks-human tracks-train tracks and roads.
Pirt Koorroot by Richard Collopy


We are the descendants of the 'The Crowes Line' and in the Rainforest we would be 

After 200 years of constant displacement from the mountains to the sea 

Now happy standing under the Beech Tree, together we can welcome thee

It is this Ancient land calling us back, our histories together now are free