The Aboriginal People of the Far South Coast NSW are resilient and strong, creative and diverse.
They are the people that live between the mountains and the sea, the Black Duck people, the Yuin.
The Yuin Nation is made up of 13 major tribal groups.
Though the Elders of the Yuin nation lived through the chaos of colonisation, they have managed to preserve ancient creation stories. These stories are used to teach culture and to enrich our lives and those of our children as well as many other people living on Yuin Country, all those willing to listen and learn.
Bulwal Buraadja – Strong Tomorrow
Bulwal Buraadja is Four Winds’ commitment to ensuring the voice of the Yuin People is heard and celebrated throughout all our creative offerings.
Through Bulwal Buraadja we will support and showcase the vitality and creativity of the Aboriginal people of the NSW Far South Coast.
The program supports and presents community projects with the aim of revitalizing and strengthening Yuin cultural practice, language and creativity.
In partnership with the National Museum of Australia’s (NMA’s) Cultural Connections program, Four Winds now employs an Aboriginal Creative Producer to shepherd this incentive.
Visual artist Cheryl Davison has taken on this role. Under Cheryl’s direction Bulwal Buraadja is destined to be highly creative.
Four Winds supports Cheryl through access to quality musicians, imaginative producers and highly experienced event organisers. This provides an excellent platform for presenting language, stories, history and the aspirations of the Aboriginal people of the South Coast to the wider community.
Supporting this community to present their experiences creatively, turns them towards their culture.
This is what Yuin people have done for millennia — sung, danced, told stories, painted country and expressed Dreaming. In the words of Cheryl:
“creating and presenting works that tell old and new stories keeps us relevant and enduring as the oldest culture on earth”.
Bulwal Buraadja has seen the establishment of a Koori Community Choir. The choir known as Djinama Yilaga – Happy Ceremony – meets on a regular basis, thereby developing skills, repertoire and confidence to sing in front of audiences.
Bulwal Buraadja has also reignited the traditional skill of possum skin cloak making among our local community people. The white possum cloak is central to the identity of the Black Duck people and that of Mount Gulaga. The community recently recreated Gulaga’s white possum skin coat and a brown possum skin cloak for use in welcome ceremonies at Four Winds events. The cloak will also be available to all Yuin people for use at their welcome events.
Bulwal Buraadja will also see the creation of wonderful, new choreography and dance that will bring ancient stories to life and reinforce their relevance.
To date the choir has written four songs with the assistance of Lou Bennett, formally of Tiddas. Further songs have been commissioned using the skills of Emma Donovan and Eric Avery. Through this project, community will learn and revitalise Dhurga and Djiringanj language through song.
Due to the 2020 lockdowns, it was decided to develop the songs and their performance into a film project, four music clips, called Bagan • Barra Barra • Mirriwarr (Land, Sea, Sky).
These stunning video works feature the Djinama Yilaga Choir, the possum skin cloaks and black cockatoo flags made for the project, and celebrate the Dhurga language and pristine natural world of our region. The films will be premiered at the 2021 Easter Festival.
“Bulwal Buraadja will bring South Coast Aboriginal culture to life; it will not be in a museum, but dancing about, informing audiences and inspiring our people and the community we live in – helping us stand tall.”
Cultural affiliations / language group:
Walbunja and Ngarigo
Yuin country, Narooma to Eden
Cheryl Davison is a Walbunja, Ngarigo woman. As a child she spent precious time sitting next to her grandfather in his old wooden boat on the shores of Wallaga Lake, just north of Bermagui on the Far South Coast of NSW.
Cheryl’s grandmother was a Ngarigo woman from the Snowy Mountains region. As a young child Cheryl’s grandmother was stolen away from country, and she never had the chance to return home in her lifetime.
Cheryl feels privileged to have grown up around many of her Elders and the community, listening to stories of the Yuin people.
Cheryl has studied and taught visual arts, graphic arts and printmaking. It was these foundations that shaped her life and fostered the artist and storyteller she has become, now exhibiting nationally and internationally.
Cheryl also sits on the Gulaga National Park Board of Management, which governs the direction of care of the Yuin people’s beloved and sacred mountain.
Cheryl is dedicated to her people, committed to healing the rifts caused by Australia’s devastating colonisation and is steadfast in honouring the Elders’ visions for her people and culture – to be united and strong – reasserting themselves in a world, that is in desperate need of this ancient wisdom.