Fairhaven Point in Bermagui, ©Nilmini De Silva Photography

Listening to Country: Feeling the Land

Nilmini De Silva
Jan 19 · 3 min read

As the morning sun breaks through the low cloud
I feel the spirits of the ancestors speaking in the distant calls of the black cockatoos
The chirping of unrecognisable bird calls and tiny insects herald the start of a new day
In the distance black swans, totem of the Yuin people
Glide gracefully on the surface of Wallaga Lake
Pied Oystercatchers tip toe on the mudflats feasting on molluscs
Black butterflies sip nectar around me
If you can still your mind, you might recognise the wind playing a melody
The whistling rises to a climactic crescendo before gently falling back into a stillness
Lasting for seconds before a new rhythm begins to play
The flap of a pelican’s wings breaks my meditation and I turn around
In the bushes, two kangaroos are watching me intently
Alert but unafraid as I approach them slowly
We share a moment in time before I turn and make tracks to my own breakfast

Imgaes at Fairhaven Point, ©Nilmini De Silva Photography

Our feet scrunch on the shells at Fairhaven Midden — one of the largest on the Eastern seaboard
Aboriginal people travelled these routes for millennia, from the north and from the south
They came for Whale Dreaming ceremony; to share stories while feasting and searching for wives
They dined on octopus, fish, eels, prawns and mussels
The empty shells piled up at this midden speaks to me of the bounty of this region
This midden stretches for more than 7 acres; 4m deep and a 100 metres across.
Parts of these ancient trading routes still exist in the wild country
This is how the white explorers penetrated this land
Guided by ancient clans who had no idea of what lay in store.
If only the trading routes could speak, what stories would they tell?
Now transformed into the roads and highways that criss cross our nation
How many of us travelling the Princes or the Hume
Realise we are traversing a pathway older than the Silk Road
More ancient than the Pyramids
These Songlines have been here for more than 40,000 years
The secrets of the old people buried forever beneath the bitumen
Little evidence of the ancient stories remain, yet
At Wallaga Lake there are glimpses of the Garden of Eden that Australia once was
But the signs of forbidden fruit that have been plucked are all around me
Landscapes altered forever by unsustainable mining, over fishing and clear felling of old growth forests
Reminding us that this is how Paradise was Lost.

Images ©Nilmini De Silva Photography

Eco-living Journeys

A collection of stories, reflections and learnings from…

Nilmini De Silva

Written by

Documentary Photographer & Civil Engineer promoting new paradigms for living. http://narratives4change.com.au http://beautilitydevelopments.com.au

Eco-living Journeys

A collection of stories, reflections and learnings from ecovillages & other alternative lifestyle models around the world. These attempts at re-localisation point to an emerging revolution in the way humans live on the land. More at beautilitydevelopments.com.au

Nilmini De Silva

Written by

Documentary Photographer & Civil Engineer promoting new paradigms for living. http://narratives4change.com.au http://beautilitydevelopments.com.au

Eco-living Journeys

A collection of stories, reflections and learnings from ecovillages & other alternative lifestyle models around the world. These attempts at re-localisation point to an emerging revolution in the way humans live on the land. More at beautilitydevelopments.com.au

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store