Beneath my feet

I walk on Aboriginal land. In the city, it can be hard to remember this. Enmore-pipe-2014-08-27 08.41.57 But I try to remember, beneath my feet is the land of the Cadigal people. cooks-sandstone-20140504_110600I grew up walking on Wiradjuri land. I didn’t know who owned the land then, I thought we did. hay-01-05Since that time, I’ve had the lands of many nations beneath my feet. I try and always find out whose land it is, but it is sometimes surprisingly difficult. lobster-20140907_105008 Yuin land.

whipstick-flower-2014-10-20 15.06.37 Wurundjeri and Wathaurong land.

moss-rock-20150614_133001Darug and Gundungurra land.

Perth-Aboriginal -plaque-459686_10151956341436492_134384244_n Nyoongar land.

leaves-adelaide-20150527_100254Kaurna land.

As I look through the photos I selected for this post, I notice a theme. In several of them, the actual surface of the earth is obscured or dominated by objects, materials and even plants introduced since European colonisation.

This sculpture by Adelaide artist Louise Haselton also captures that theme. It illustrates why the English colonists defined Australia as ‘Terra Nullius’ (uninhabited land). They were dazzled by a vision of this continent’s natural wealth, so they chose not to see its people.


Scrutineers, by Louise Haselton.

I noticed, too, that in some of the photos I chose, there’s a sense of decay or destruction — dead leaves, a broken lobster carcass. Do these images signify the damage and loss caused by the theft of Aboriginal lands? Or maybe they represent hope; that life goes on in spite of all. echidna-2014-10-20 14.02.43

See what’s beneath other bloggers’ feet here.


9 thoughts on “Beneath my feet

  1. WOW – thank you. You list so many of the original people’s names and lands – that so few people know or care about. I’d love it if you followed it up with some information about where the lands are, something about the people.
    Once I saw a map of aboriginal nations – it made sense of the Australian continent. The european state boundaries are so arbitrary.

    Thank you for posting this.

    • Thanks. I think as non-indigenous Australians we all have a responsibility to inform ourselves about Aboriginal culture & history, so when I post about the environment/nature I usually try & include some info related to local Aboriginal knowledge or history. I’ve linked in this post to further info on each of the Aboriginal nations/tribes that I mention (the quality is a bit variable though).

  2. Such a great interpretation of the challenge, Maamej. As Debbie said, it would be great to see a map of Aboriginal nations. But then again, there are many, many of them and the languages spoken by each Indigenous community so diverse. It is really interesting that you point out there is a sense of decay in the photos you took. Sort of reminiscent of how various Indigenous stories are fading away unless they are told sooner rather than later in Australia.

    • Thanks Mabel 🙂 I was thinking about whether or not to do the challenge this week and then remembered my pic of the metal plaque with the swan & kookaburra, which is part of a larger piece on a walkway in Kings Park Botanic Gardens in Perth – Nyoongar /Noongar /Nunga country. That park is very good at acknowledging the traditional owners and shares lots of Nyoongar knowledge about the seasons & environment. So that’s what got me going.

      There’s a good language map here:, although that wasn’t my main source for the nations I’ve shared, I tried to find sites with more information.

      I like your suggestion for the significance of decay, adds a new layer of meaning, thank you. The good news is that so many more of those stories are being told now, and by indigenous people themselves.

      • That is good to hear of the Botanic Gardens in Perth. Makes me wonder if we have anything like that paying respects to the First Peoples in Melbourne’s Botanical Gardens. I’m sure there is, but I must have missed it.

        Thank you for sharing that map. Very informative, and it’s a good start for any of us who wants to figure out where various Indigenous communities are located around Australia. So many communities, so many stories.

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