Old ways practised on Bininj Manbolh
Traditional Aboriginal knowledge was imparted to 11 Gunbalanya School senior students during a trek along the Bininj Manbolh — the walking trails of their ancestors.
The years 7 to 9 students were accompanied on the two-day 18-kilometre Learning on Country trip by elders and five Njanjma Rangers.
Learning on Country teacher Daniel McLaren said the primary purpose of the excursion was to show the cultural knowledge transferred is “living and relevant”.
“The students listened to the elders’ Dreaming stories and were introduced to sand palms, green plum trees, yams, and mankung (native sugarbag honey),” he said.
“They were taught traditional place names, how to make and fix bamboo fish spears (djalakirradj), prepare and bake damper, and cook bush meats in a ground oven.
“The students learned how paints were made from orchid sap mixed with ochre, and how to interpret art in two rock shelters that included fish, kangaroos and mimih (spirit figures).”
Mr McLaren said the hike was useful in building teamwork skills and aptitudes in safety and readiness for wilderness travel.
“The students learned the protocols that should precede any bush trip, including the gear they’d need and the provision of enough water to avoid dehydration,” he said.
“They also referred to Google Earth to see the route and calculate the distance.”
The 16 to 18 June event followed a shorter two-day trip for the primary school students.