An afternoon with Warren Foster Mumbulla Falls
By Elena Delmercato, Four Winds Volunteer
On day two, the artists gathered under the trees at Mumbulla Falls to listen to Warren Foster Yuin Community Leader, share stories about his connection to place.
A gifted story teller, Warren spoke engagingly about the relationship he and the people of the Yuin nation have with the natural world. Gesturing behind the group to the tall trees along the river bank, he told the group how ‘We look for signs in the trees. They tell us things and teach us…when the wattle is flowering it tells us there are fish in the rivers. When we come to the bush we talk to the bush, we sing to the bush.”. Warren also spoke about the sense of responsibility he feels to look after the land, “We are here to protect and look after the land…we come from mother earth; we have to put back in mother earth”.
Mumbulla is considered the man’s mountain, and it is a special place for ceremonies to mark the passing of young boys into adulthood. Warren shared with the group how the natural environment, in particular the nearby waterfalls, form part of the ceremony, “At the top of the waterfall you are still a boy. When you slide down into the water and come out below, you are a man.”.
At one point, Warren finished talking and started singing, a song that explained his connection to his land. The group was silent, and as he sang, it was as if the sounds of the bush were accompanying him – various birds called out, trees rustled as they moved in the wind, and the sound of the river. And in the back ground, the sound of Warren’s two young boys as they jumped about on the creek bed. It was a reminder that this bush, and this place had meaning not just for Warren but his family. Just as Bithry Inlet had meaning for the Grounds family. Places, and stories about places, that connect families and honour and respect the natural environment.
As on the previous day, the session ended with a note of thanks and recognition for the natural world. This time it was Warren who told the group how he respected this place every time he visits, and encouraged them to do the same ‘Every time I come up this mountain I take a drink from the creek and say thank you’.
A special thanks to Elena Delmercato and Ben Cunningham, Four Winds Volunteers, for attending the field studies weekend as media/film crew