By Winiata Puru
I attended the Waddananggu Festival from 22nd—26th of August to commemorate one year of reoccupation of the camp. I left Canberra in the morning of the 19th of August—good to have a break from the chill of winter. Temperatures during the day are close to 30 up that way. I was off and took four days and was impressed of the huge welcome tent—silver tarped, semicircled roof, and a fire at the far centre where the gum leafed roof, all the branches were intertwined, beautifully done.
I felt I was in the Thunderdome but Murri style ’22.
Later we all were welcomed in by Coedie, with stories, a smoking, sharing his commitment of standing and remaining at that site. For his family, people, land and ancestors.
Meals were excellent and a lot of work focused on satisfying every diet – hard work.
There were many workshops each day from legal protocols, crotchet, and journeys to special trees near the camps.
Carloads and a few cyclists each day going to the dam for a swim, it was so good to hear the voice of Uncle Adrian, his sons and daughters near him.
There were other workshops, including the understanding of sovereignty. There were guest speakers that are defending their land, Deebing Creek for instance. They had a presence and we got to know their story, their injustices, but their determination to protect their land was inspiring.
A woman from Western Australia (Auntie Josie) spoke of her land where Woodside (the mining conglomerate) is still imposing a threat to her land and people. We will present a peaceful, colourful protest—in fact an art show—in public in Sydney, at the right time. Tricky to coordinate, but we must try so that we can support Auntie Josie.
Woodside = Ecocide
A performance before lunch of two dance stories was beautifully put together, especially in the dance circle, with fine ochre within the huge corroboree ground. Circled by rocks from that area, it was cleaned first by the women that morning, then the dance began and it was astounding. Beautiful movements led by two women and the voice of Uncle Adrian singing a lament with gusto and pride.
We were all invited to participate in the fourth dance and it felt fantastic to be included. Uncle Adrian said, “there’s no mistakes, just dance”. Lunch was veganly delicious that day.
The nights were cool, but the dark sky was a wonder and clean, and clear. I made sure at about 2:30AM to look at the sky to appreciate that life is just the best—especially away from the bite of Canberra’s winter. We ate together, laughed, shed tears, went for walks, chopped veggies, kept the fire burning, listened to many, enjoyed the first cuppa in the morning, went for swims, watched the children to see if they were safe, danced hard and enjoyed the union of the dance.
All this time, the miners opposite our camp were desecrating the land, tearing into the body of mother earth, relentless, day and night. I was told that sometimes there’s only 30 miners at work—the rest is done by robots and computerisation. Not sure if that’s a fact, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
The rest of the miners are widening roads, building bridges, and filming everybody coming and going. There is a thick dust each day, but company policy states that they must keep the roads watered. Uncle Adrian sang out one talk he was giving – “Where are they getting that water?? WATER IS LIFE.” We must support this campaign still. Their determination to defend inspires many others for land rights, and the right for land.
Money is needed for this campaign, especially for legal proceedings.