CAUL
CAUL

Urban Beat 2018 NAIDOC Week Edition


Selected stories from the seventh issue of Urban Beat, the newsletter of the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub, can be read online below. A pdf copy of the full issue can be downloaded here.

Welcome to the 2018 NAIDOC Week Edition of Urban Beat! My name is Zena Cumpston and I recently started work as CAUL’s Indigenous Knowledge Broker. I was honoured to be asked to edit this NAIDOC Edition and I have been so excited to include many First Nations voices and perspectives, particularly those of women.

NAIDOC Week is a time for all Australians to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and is an important event which has been observed in the first week of July since the 1970s. The national theme for the 2018 NAIDOC Week is Because of Her, We Can! The CAUL Hub respects, honours and celebrates Indigenous knowledge creation and stewardship and the central role Indigenous women play within this sphere.

This edition of Urban Beat forefronts the importance of First Nations women as role models both in their own families and communities but also at a wider local and national level. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are the pillars of our society. They have fought for us, nurtured us, guided us and ensured our cultural, political and social survival. This NAIDOC Issue of Urban Beat is dedicated to our Mothers, Elders, Sisters, Grandmothers, Aunties and Daughters.

Banner Artwork: Dixon Patten

Introduction

Jason Barrow & Maddi Miller
Co-Chairs, Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub Indigenous Advisory Group

This NAIDOC we reflect on the theme Because of Her, We Can! We look back on the women who have shaped our lives, the women who have paved the way, and the women of the future.

We take a moment to recognise the importance of Aboriginal Women in the survival of our many cultures. Deadly women who have shown leadership in community, in academia and in activism. Our people have always been architects, engineers, environmental scientists, hydrologists – caring for Country so that Country can care for us.

At CAUL, we have been privileged to have collaborated with, learned from, and listened to many wonderful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women including: Lauren Arabena, Kirstine Wallis, Steph Beaupark, Zena Cumpston, Mandy Nicholson, Jirra Harvey, Leah Talbot, Maddi Miller, Linda Kennedy, Timmah Ball and Melissa George.

The Indigenous Advisory Group to CAUL has had a busy twelve months. We facilitated a discussion at the MPavilion in Narrm (Melbourne) on Indigenous knowledge and nature in our cities.

The inaugural NESP Indigenous Gathering was held in Canberra. It provided an opportunity for mob across NESP to connect, yarn, and identify ways forward in environmental research. The CAUL IAG was integral in establishing this important meeting, and in ensuring that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants had the opportunity to connect and share in a culturally safe setting.

The IAG also hosted an event as part of Melbourne Knowledge Week, bringing our approach to Indigenous Engagement and Participation to urban practitioners.

The IAG has a busy year ahead. Maddi has been curating an event in August that brings together mob from all across the NESP for a gathering at Questacon, Canberra. Jason has also been hard at work, bringing together a community event as part of Science Week.

The IAG continues to push for increased representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in urban research. The importance of our peoples deep knowledge of Country is key to understanding our cities. Everything we do in this country is done on Aboriginal land. From the heart of the outback to the heart of our cities, we acknowledge the enduring and continued connection to Country of all First Nations.

Jirra Lulla Harvey: Sharing Community Stories

Jirra Lulla Harvey is the Founder and Director of Kalinya Communications, an Aboriginal-owned communications company committed to gathering and sharing local knowledge.

We were fortunate to speak with Jirra to find out more about her role as an Innovation Fellow at RMIT and her upcoming partnership with CAUL Hub.

Reflecting on this years NAIDOC theme ‘Because of Her, We Can’! please tell us a little about the women in your life who have had the most influence on the person you are today?

Kalinya means good, beautiful and honest in Yorta Yorta. I named my business in my Grandmother’s language to serve as a constant reminder. Whenever I am faced with a challenging decision, I think – what would my Nanny Lulla say about this? Will I bring her pride or shame through my next actions? Her legacy plays a big part in my life. I have had countless strong women in my life, and each of them have shaped the woman I am. My Mum used to take me out of primary school to attend the Koorie women’s study class she was teaching at Deakin Uni, and feminist theory was a common dinner table conversation. She taught me that I could do anything, but as an Aboriginal woman, I was going to have to work twice as hard for it.

Can you explain how your company Kalinya Communications was born?

I always wanted to work in the media, partly because I am a huge pop culture fan and because I wanted to share good news stories from our communities. Five years ago when I started Kalinya the goal was to share stories about events and write community profiles. The news at the time was dominated by stories of violence and corruption and it felt like an uphill battle trying to get positive stories about Aboriginal people published. Today the landscape has changed, and we work in strategic communications promoting how Indigenous knowledge adds value to brand strategies and broader narratives.

As a 100% Aboriginal-owned company how do you embed cultural values in the work you undertake?

I grew up in a not-for-profit world, and everyone I know works really hard to make things better for our community. Operating a business in this environment can be confusing and challenging. I started the business because I wanted to tell positive stories and to live a life of more freedom. I didn’t think about cash-flow or how I would keep it afloat. Now I have systems in place that help me keep the business alive while maintaining the cultural values I was raised with.
For example, I have a percentage of in-kind hours. I engage in trade arrangements with other Aboriginal owned businesses, and only charge five billable hours per day. This way, if I am on Country doing market research and an Elder invites me down to the river or over for lunch, I always have enough time. I love these moments. Just like I love it when friends and family drop in to my office at MAYSAR, I never want to be too busy to stay connected but I also understand that clients don’t want to be billed for these hours.

Tell us about your role as an Innovation Fellow at RMIT University

For a couple of years now I have been attending start-up and innovation events and have seen so many parallels between the value-led business industry and the work being done by Aboriginal entrepreneurs - every Aboriginal business owner I know wants to create positive social and environmental impact through their work. People in the value-led business space are often really interested and want to support us, but aren’t sure how. And when I hang out with Aboriginal entrepreneurs we always talk about how we need better relationships with investors, lawyers and financial planners to make our businesses sustainable. Through my role as an Innovation Fellow, I am working with Aboriginal entrepreneurs to co-create programs that join the dots.
I believe we are naturally good at business; business demands creativity, resilience and out of the box thinking, and our Ancestors had a thriving trade economy before the pyramids were built. I am passionate about small business because it allows founders to create the kind of lifestyles they want, whether it be travelling the world or living in remote areas, working hours that fit with family life or ceremonial time. You can also design the kind of impact you want to have, whether it be employing more community members, caring for Country or supporting other small businesses to grow.
But the demands of capitalism don’t always fit with our world views and business can be cut throat. For ages we have dreamt of having a safe space for Aboriginal entrepreneurs to come together and share experiences and support one and other, so through my Fellowship I have been working on the Ngamai meet ups, I hope they will become regular monthly events where we showcase the work of Aboriginal entrepreneurs from around Australia and inspire more business growth in Victoria.

What projects will you be working on with the CAUL Hub?

One of my focus areas for Kalinya in 2018 was caring for Country, so I was excited when this came along. I will be working with CAUL to share stories to illustrate how Indigenous knowledge adds value to urban research. I love this because it’s going beyond some of the current conversations. I think it’s widely understood these days that Aboriginal people lived in harmony with the land for countless generations and continue to have invaluable insights into land management in remote areas, but what does this look like in urban areas? We are going to be exploring Indigenous ways of knowing, of viewing stewardship and the interconnectedness of people and environment.

Yhonnie Scarce: Exploring the Political Power of Glass

Yhonnie Scarce was born in Woomera, South Australia, and belongs to the Kokatha and Nukunu peoples. Yhonnie holds a Master of Fine Arts from Monash University. She is one of the first contemporary Australian artists to explore the political and aesthetic power of glass, describing her work as ‘politically motivated and emotionally driven’.

Yhonnie’s work is seen in the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria, The Art Gallery of South Australia, National Gallery Australia, Flinders University Art Museum, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, and the University of South Australia. We were fortunate to speak with Yhonnie to ask her about her art practice as a First Nations artist and her thoughts on the importance of public art.

Reflecting on this years NAIDOC theme ‘Because of Her, We Can!’ please tell us a little about the women in your life who have had the most influence on the person you are today?

There’s quite a few, actually. I think particularly, there is one woman, Gabriella Bisetto, who is the head of the glass department at the University of South Australia. She was my glass lecturer when I did my Undergraduate degree there. I often say that she’s the formidable force behind that department. She’s the one that keeps it afloat and she has been doing that for a long period of time now. She taught me to be open about my practice, among other things, and I was very grateful for her teaching methods when I was an art student.

Tell us about your art practice, and in particular, your engagement within the realm of public art

My art practice is primarily working with blown glass. My interests lie in identity, memory, loss and issues related to the colonisation of Australia and how it’s affected Aboriginal people. I have utilized blown glass bush food to represent Aboriginal people and our culture. I’ve used that to create works that reflect family history stories and also to tell stories related to Genocide. Through that interest in Genocide I’ve looked for public art and even memorials that are related to people who have died as a result of the Holocaust. I’ve engaged with memorials in general and I’m quite interested in how big public art can be and the scale that can be reached. I feel public art is really important and that it is important for each city to engage with artists to tell the histories of that place. I’m yet to see a lot of it in Australia but I have seen a lot of public art overseas and have been drawn to areas in Europe, particularly to Germany and Berlin. I like how they work with artists there to produce public art.

How does site-specific public art differ to art that appears in galleries and musems, in the conversations it generates?

I guess not everyone goes to galleries and I think you can walk past a piece of artwork that is out in the street and engage with it even just as you’re going back and forth from work. I think a lot more people see public art. With a gallery you have to make a specific day or time to go and it may not be of interest to you, depending on what different exhibitions are on. I think with pubic art it’s outside - it’s out there, it’s living, it’s breathing and it is accessible to everyone.

How can art made by First Nations artists specifically for urban spaces interrogate the lack of representation of First Peoples in public memorials in Australia?

I think there needs to be a lot more representation of First Nations peoples in every city in Australia. To acknowledge First Peoples and the history of our peoples is really important. I use Berlin as an example of a place that has really successfully incorporated public art into its identity as a city. I’ve been to Berlin three times now and the first time I went I stumbled across many of the memorials to murdered Jewish people and the acknowledgement of that part of their History. There was so much just in Berlin and in Germany whereas in Australia, it is happening, but I would like to see a lot more engagement with First Nations artists to tell these stories in a public way.

Can you tell us about a public artwork that really speaks to you and why you find it powerful?

There are two in Berlin that I think are really special. One of them is the memorial to the Jewish people murdered during the Holocaust. It was designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold. It is a memorial but it is an artwork, it is architecturally beautiful. It is quite stark and very dark in colour but it makes such a powerful statement. People can engage with it on a personal level. Every time I go to Berlin I make a pact with myself to go and visit. The first time I saw it I came across it by accident, I am quite drawn to it.
The other is a memorial about the burning of the books by Jewish writers made by Israeli sculptor Micha Ullman. For something so small and intimate, as this memorial is, it makes such a powerful statement. When I’m in Berlin I go there at many different times in the day and there are people engaging with it, sitting or standing, but no one ever walks on it even though it is inserted into the ground. It is lit from beneath and you can see bookshelves and empty bookshelves. That’s another one that draws me to it. I think in Germany, in particular, the way they care for their public art is really beautiful and I think it is a really important part of their history and culture that they create these artworks to make a statement about their dark History.

When you are submitting proposals and thinking about public artworks that you want to make, what do you think is the most important aspect of that work for you as the artist? What is the thing that you want to convey or ensure through your work?

I think to make the viewers or the public really aware of what they are looking at and who they are engaging with. It is so important to acknowledge First Peoples – that we fought for Country and that we fought for our families as well. It is an extension of my practice that I create work that is able to engage with people who may have a lack of understanding of Australia’s history and the treatment of Aboriginal people. This history is still very much present; it is still current. Having something on display that is in a public forum can be really successful in bringing our stories to the forefront and that’s one of the aspects I find most important.

New works by Yhonnie Scarce are currently on display at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Southbank, Melbourne, as part of the exhibition ‘A Lightness of Spirit is the Measure of Happiness’, which explores and celebrates the significance of family, community and humour in contemporary Aboriginal life.

Indigenous Advisory Group Reflections on the NAIDOC Theme

CAUL Hub Indigenous Advisory Group members took some time to tell us about the women in their lives that have shaped the people they are today as a reflection on this year’s NAIDOC theme, Because of Her, We Can!

Jade Kennedy
There is not one ‘her’ when you grow up in an Aboriginal family…
My great-grandmother Sarah Pepper passed away when I was 17. She was a great medicine woman and would show many of us kids the plants and other resources within nature that had healing properties or were to be used to concoct bush medicines. I remember her grumpy humour and think of how I use this when showing children today the plants we use to maintain our health… It is because of my great grandmother I understand the importance of my health and wellbeing and it is because of her I can teach my children and community…
My grandmother Linda Cruse was a founding member of the South Coast Aboriginal Advancement League and a staunch warrior for our people’s human rights. She negotiated the establishment of the Wollongong Aboriginal Community Centre with the help of the Wharfies and trade unionists and co-ordinated the service for over 10 years. She was a product of her time… tough and hard, political and unwavering… and yet gentle and beautiful and funny… she filled me with knowledge… but most importantly with a strong sense of justice, equality and grounding in place… It is because of my Nan that I fight for our rights to Country… and it is because of her that I chair our Local Aboriginal Lands Council and am actively involved in our community’s politics…
My mother Catherine Kennedy established the first Aboriginal homework centre in the Illawarra along with some volunteer school teachers from Koonawarra Primary School. Mum would do a dozen pick up’s in our old Mitsubishi L300 and make Jonny-cakes for our afternoon teas… she would gather us in a single class-room and along with the teachers engage us in learning activities and make sure we completed our homework. My mum instilled in us all the importance of education… but she also impressed upon me the importance of a strong work ethic… it is because of my mum that I work at the University of Wollongong today… and it is because of her that I am passionate about the education of our kids and community…
It is only because of these strong black ladies that I can… and it is absolutely, without a doubt because of these women I am who I am today…

Maddi Miller
Because of her I can….
Ancestress
You hold me
Wrapped in possum skins
Coolamon baby nabunggay widalyi
Once known
Your name on my lips Waruwi Wiring
I feel you in the
Lyrebird embrace
I see you in the
Smoke stained skies
Wind your way
Through the river
Ancestress
You hold me
I hold you
M.Miller

Jason Barrow
Because of my Mum I can… succeed at whatever I turn my hand to. I’ve got my Mum to thank for always being there to support my schooling and educational pathways, of which there’s been a few and I’m sure at times this has left her frustrated and bewildered; but still she supported/s me.
Going to school was just a given for us growing up as it wasn’t until year 10 that I attended a school without her being on staff! Even then, the schools that I attended after had her past teachers on or past colleges, so there was always someone watching and holding me to account. Was this a bad thing? I think not, as it takes a community to raise a child and I’m fortunate to have had the support around me and to have been aware of it. If I ever needed help or assistance I had many people that I could turn to because of my Mum.
Now as a parent myself, reflecting on my own childhood, I find myself mirroring mum’s supportive ways of working with my children’s schools and teachers each year. Strong relationships of mutual understanding and commitment to helping to grow our next generation.
Thanks Mum/Nana.

Zena Cumpston: Looking-Past-Narrm

Zena Cumpston
CAUL Hub Indigenous Knowledge Broker and Editor of this edition

It is twenty years since I lost my Mum, and she has most certainly been the most important woman in my life in terms of shaping the person I am today.

Growing up, we travelled a lot together by road as a family. Visiting relatives and loved ones all over Australia, we would stop at small towns and Mum would often take us to the local cemetery. Far from being macabre, this was an exercise in showing respect and reverence and understanding how to imbue meaning and find connection to a foreign place. By looking at the headstones we got an idea of family names in that area, historical happenings, changes in mortality and the relationships people had to one another over time. Most importantly, Mum was teaching us to think about the lives of those who had been there before us, about people who had a relationship to that place. To realise they were just like us, with families and tragedies and triumphs. To think about lives lived. Ultimately to understand connectedness and place and how to begin to chart a course to belong.

Today I am an Barkindji woman living in Narrm (Melbourne) on Country that is far from my own. True to my teachings from Mum I have immersed myself in the history of this place and it has been an incredible journey to begin to learn about the people of the Kulin Nation over time, and particularly the Woiwurrung and Boon Wurrung people on whose Country I live and work. No matter how long I make this beautiful city my own it is not for me to decide whether I belong. But in attempting to understand the connection of the Woiwurrung and Boon Wurrung people to Country, to know their stories and history and to know a little of what happened here, I find a way to connect. I am interacting and bonding with this city, this undeniably Aboriginal place. This Woiwurrung and Boon Wurrung place.

When I am in the City Centre I often reflect on how much of it was once a series of waterways, waterholes and wetlands that were a vital part of the glorious Birrarung (Yarra River) ecosystem. I think about how, in the building of this city, waterways were filled in, covered over, blown up, erased and colonised. I gain real hope for what the future might hold in the knowledge that the eels still travel along those waterways in late summer, as they always have, just deeper underground and sometimes even through the drains of the city. I wonder at what must have been an abundance of food sources here that allowed huge mobs of people, from all over the lands of the Kulin, to gather together for ceremony and a good feed.

Today’s Narrm, known for its rich cultural events and institutions Nation and World-wide, has always been a meeting place to share culture and come together. As I meander down Spring Street on my tram I remember pictures I have seen as part of my work as a researcher showing big mobs of people where Parliament now stands. Aboriginal people looking out from that hill down what is now Collins and Bourke streets. Probably talking and making decisions, important ones, together. It blows my mind that where the MCG stands today it is well documented that people of the Kulin Nation gathered regularly to play Marngrook which was the precursor to Aussie Rules football. When I look at the majestic Birrarung, the heart of this city, the source of 70% of our drinking water, I think about how the Wurundjeri people continue to fulfil their obligations as Custodians of Country, about how they lobbied and fought hard to enable the 2017 Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Act.

In all the work I do as an historical researcher I think about the ways that I approach things that are a direct result of the paths Mum took me down. I remember to show reverence and care always for those who came before me, I try to find respectful ways to connect with all peoples. I love a good yarn, I love to listen. I love to tell stories, to gather knowledge, to share knowledge gained. Although I have not seen her, held her, heard her for almost half of my life, I realise more and more that the person that I am, the way I work and the way I view the world and my place in it has undeniably been shaped by her. I am so thankful to have been taught how to be by someone so kind and respectful. I see my world through her old eyes, the eyes of my Ancestors. I am still here, moving along your pathways, and so Mum, you continue too.

For anyone who is interested in finding out more about Aboriginal people, History and the Ecology of Narrm and the Kulin Nation I have listed some sources and links below:

People of the Merri Merri; the Wurundjeri in Colonial Days, Written by Isabel Ellender and Peter Christiansen
Melbourne Dreaming, a guide to important places of the past and present, Written by Meyer Eidelson
First People, the Eastern Kulin of Melbourne, Written by Gary Presland
Koorie Plants Koorie People; Traditional Aboriginal Food, Fibre and Healing Plants of Victoria, Written by Nelly Zola and Beth Gott
Power and the Passion; Our Ancestors Return Home, Written by Shannon Faulkhead and Jim Berg
Dark Emu, Black Seeds: agriculture or accident? Written by Bruce Pascoe
https://imaginetheyarra.com.au/news/bill-passes
https://murrupbarak.unimelb.edu.au/engage/billibellarys-walk
http://aboriginalhistoryofyarra.com.au/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iymD5ckOMQc
https://www.wurundjeri.com.au/
http://www.boonwurrung.org/

For kids:

Welcome to Country by Aunty Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy
Sorry Day, Written by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler
Melbourne Museum: https://museumsvictoria.com.au/bunjilaka/

Reflections on Urban Spaces

First Nations people are often only associated with Country, custodianship and connection to Country in terms of rural areas. To highlight that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in major cities, and have strong connections, affiliations and histories within these urban contexts, we asked some First Nations women to tell us about their favourite urban spaces and what makes these places special to them.

Stacie Piper – Woiwurrung Woman, Story Teller, Mother, Sister, Daughter, Friend
One of my favourite urban spaces in Melbourne is the Merri Creek / Yarra River confluence at Dights Falls, Abbotsford – I call it “Wurundjeri Falls”.
It began with walks along the bike path with my Mother, Winifred. Once at the Falls, we’d step out on to the rocks and sit together, listening to the rapids and discuss what this spot would have been used for, by the old people. The rock falls would have provided the old people with a natural river crossing, a place to catch migrating fish and a place to bathe.
There is a spot a little further up the bike track, where prior to European settlement, our Wurundjeri family would meet with other clans, on the banks. Affairs like trade, disputes and marriage would be discussed. I loved that Mum and I could sit together on that same bank and connect with them. Now that my dear Mother has passed on to the dreaming, I now connect with her at this spot, it is very healing.
In 2017 a new tradition was started with some community members, we lit a fire together up on the grass mound overlooking the falls, and had a very open smoking ceremony! People looked on, wondering what on earth was happening, as we went about our cultural business. We acknowledged the space, the ground, the trees, the birds, and all creatures which inhabit that space, and have done so for many thousands of years. This tradition will continue each year, where I know the old people would be standing right there with us, and that gives me comfort.

Lynette Russell - Academic, Author, Mother, Daughter
As a primary school child in the late 1960s my school friends and I were taken on an excursion to the Melbourne museum, which at the time was in Swanston street in the same building as the State Library of Victoria. While the museum interested me, and I still can recall some of the more startling exhibits—giant Japanese crabs, and glass case filled with taxidermied animals including a terrifying silver-back gorilla—it was the glimpse of the State Library that truly grabbed my imagination. Starting with the front entrance and the portico that looked to me like a monument from ancient Rome or Greece. There was the visible blue stone that had an almost jail like look to it, the only other building I could recall like it was Pentridge which we occasionally drove past. However, the thing that really stood out was the marble stair case that linked the foyer area with the first floor. These stairs that had carried countless eager library patrons, had been worn smooth and the brass banister discoloured from handling. Millions of footfalls had gently worn away the marble so that the steps had taken on a look as if they had melted in places. I lost my heart in that moment.
As I later studied for my PhD I came to know the library as the place that held countless treasures, books, and priceless resources. The collection of Indigenous materials has enabled me to write books, to draft Native Title reports and to trace the movements of people across the state. And while the building might stand over metres of concrete and kilometres of co-axial cables it also stands on the unceded land of the Kulin peoples.
The State Library of Victoria was one of the first free public libraries in the world, built by the gold that was taken from the nineteenth century goldfields. On any day, you might find school kids studying for their exams, or elders (black or white) exploring their family’s histories, even occasionally someone ‘down on their luck’ finds a nice dry and warm space where they can read the paper and feel part of society. The building, the institution and its holdings play a vital role in how I interact with the city. My landscape takes the SLV as the centre and I relate everything back to this. It houses information on my ancestors both black and white, and I can now proudly say it also houses books I have written, which is something that late 1960s primary school child could never have imagined.

Lisa Waup - Artist, Weaver, Arts - Worker, Curator, Mother
My favourite urban space is literally in my back yard! I live in the south east of Melbourne which is very hilly, green and quiet. For many years I have lived where there is a great deal of noise, action going on constantly – and not always good action. So for me to live in a place surrounded by my family and that is quiet is a big priority for me. My all-time favourite thing to do is to walk in our local area, there is a special track which literally transforms me into another world – it is so very unassuming and it almost feels as though I could be anywhere in a secluded bush space. It feels like I am the only one that knows it exists, I have never met anyone walking on that bush track. I walk very quietly observing the sounds, colours, smells, textures and there is always little treasures waiting for me in the form of feathers. Actually I have met creatures on my walks, every now and then I have seen kangaroos and joeys hopping about, I guess enjoying the solitude of that space also. The track ends up its winding course at a wetlands – the wetlands is an absolute treasure trove for birds, a heavenly place for a feather weaver to be. The whole journey delivers me to peace, it centers me when I am off course, and it calms me when my surroundings are turbulent and too busy to see clearly. I must remind myself to go on that walk way more often than I do and have some time out.
Lisa Waup

Fiona Petersen - Wuthathi Nation Murri, Sister, Daughter, Partner, Mother
I have great memories as a child gathered around my family’s little 13-inch TV watching rugby union, rugby league and basketball (NBL and NBA), on one of only 2 channels available to the Torres Strait at that time.
These games were few and far between, so whenever one was on there’d be great food, great company and the excitement and anticipation for the competition on show. I remember going to other people’s houses and to fundraisers to watch the bigger games; aunties dancing when their team scores, and uncles swearing when they didn’t pick the first try scorer. I clearly remember always wondering what it would be like to actually be at one of those games. I remember when the cameras panned the crowds trying to work out how those people got to be there (where do they get their tickets from, and how much are they?).
Fast forward a few decades and I’ve had the privilege of having unforgettable experiences with my own children watching all of those sports and more at some of the best sporting arenas in the world. I think a sporting arena is my favourite urban space. From local club rugby union to world cup league and the USA Dream Team at the Olympics, I have a great appreciation at all levels for the entertainment, the fanfare, and the excitement of the contest. I enjoy the buzz of the crowd making our way to the arena, then how it intensifies during the game, and how it remains long after the final siren and the crowd begins to disperse.
I also enjoy following the elite sporting careers of family and friends and showing my support to them. My younger brother played in some amazing arenas all over the world as an Australian Rugby Union Sevens player. Something I never could’ve imagined even up until recently is to see my younger sister and her dance troupe perform as part of the entertainment at the Indigenous All Stars league games, the Indigenous league round and more recently the State of Origin league game. This obviously adds a whole new level of excitement and enjoyment for the family. Bringing our culture to the event for thousands of fans both at the arena and in their lounge rooms on their 63-inch + TVs is a huge thrill for our family and makes it all the more special.