Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Seasons greetings and submission of thesis

Seasons greetings and best wishes for 2018. The photo is a Corranderrk bush at Bollygum Park, in Kinglake.  The beautiful words below are from Wurundjeri Elder, Joy Murphy Wandin:

'Coranderrk is a word from my Granny Jemima’s Pangerang language. This beautiful small stemmed bush grows along the banks of the Murray as it does by the Birrarung in Healesville. It blooms in December with sprays of tiny cream and mauvish coloured bell-shaped flowers; the whiteman call it the prosthanera Lasianthos. When I picture the glistening ripples of the river and the subtle fragrance of this plant, I feel relaxed and peaceful. Perhaps this was what my Granny hoped for, given she, like so many other children, was taken from her family, classed an orphan child and sent to Coranderrk.'
 (Information from AIATSIS at

The plant is also known by the English name of 'Christmas bush'. I have used pictures of the flowers before for seasons greetings, because when I used to live in the hills, their beautiful spicy smell became entwined with Christmas for me.

However, it was not until I read the plaque at Bollygum that I realized that this small tree is also called Corranderk in the Woiwurrung or Wurundjeri language.  I had previously heard that Corranderk was the name for a local tea tree, but it seems it was really the name for this tree. Corranderk was, of course, also the name for the reserve where Woiwurrung and Bunurong people who survived the British invasion went to live, until even that was taken from them.

It is poignantly beautiful, and sad, to think of Joy Murphy's Granny smelling the same beautiful scent, and welcoming the coming of summer, as I did many years later, without knowing this history. Everything in Australia is imbued with this history of invasion and dispossession and until we come to terms with it, there will always be this loss at the heart of our country.

I find it hard to imagine how a people can forgive those who took their land, and directly and indirectly, caused the death of so many of their ancestors. Yet is clear from the words of Elders like Joy Murphy and Boon Wurrung Arweet Carolyn Briggs, that they extend the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation, again and again. Our white political leaders fail to take it, but one day a treaty and reconciliation must happen, I hope in my lifetime.

I also want to say that I submitted my thesis on 7 December and am awaiting the results of examination.  My acknowledgements to Elders and participants from the thesis are below:

I acknowledge the custodians of this land, particularly the Boon Wurrung, Gunditjamara, Jardwadjali, Dja Dja Wurrung, Wergaia, Wotjobaluk, Jaadwa, and Jupagulk peoples, whose ancestors have lived for thousands of years on the country where this research was conducted. I pay my respect to Elders past and present. I give particular thanks to Elders, past and present, who supported or participated in this research.

I acknowledge and thank all the participants in this study, who are my co-researchers and co-authors in this study, even though their real names cannot be given here. I hope this thesis can support the work you are doing and ensure its value and significance is recognised.

I will try to post again soon on the results of the research and the challenges of putting these results into plain language.

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