Defining 'Country'

by Dr Danièle Hromek

'Stingray' by Ray Thomas, GunaiKurnai Artist


Danièle is a Saltwater woman of the Budawang tribe of the Yuin nation, with French and Czech heritage. Her research contributes an understanding of the Indigenous experience and comprehension of space and investigates how Aboriginal people occupy, use, narrate, sense, dream and contest their spaces. It rethinks the values that inform Aboriginal understandings of space through Indigenous spatial knowledge and cultural practice, and in doing so considers the sustainability of Indigenous cultures from a spatial perspective. ‘Country’ (capital C) has a different meaning to the western understanding of the word ‘country’ (small c). The western experience of land is one of property, an appropriated ground given a monetary value, a landscape that is tamed, built upon, produced, owned. In the Aboriginal sense of the word, Country relates to the nation or cultural group and land that they/we belong to, yearn for, find healing from and will return to. However, Country means much more than land, it is their/our place of origin in cultural, spiritual and literal terms. It includes not only but also skies and waters.

Country soars high into the atmosphere, deep into the planet crust and far into the oceans.

Silt Jetties, Michell River, East Gippsland

Country incorporates both the tangible and the intangible, for instance, all the knowledges and cultural practices associated with land. People are part of Country, and their/our identity is derived in a large way in relation to Country. Their/our belonging, nurturing and reciprocal relationships come through our connection to Country. In this way Country is key to our health and well-being. So caring for Country is not only caring for land, it is caring for themselves/ourselves (Hromek 2019). Country holds everything including spaces and places. Spaces and places, even those in urban centres, are thus full of Country, and therefore need appropriate cultural care to ensure healthy landscapes. Country incorporates both the tangible and the intangible, for instance, all the knowledges and cultural practices associated with land. People are part of Country, and their/our identity is derived in a large way in relation to Country. Their/our belonging, nurturing and reciprocal relationships come through our connection to Country. In this way Country is key to our health and well-being.

Cape Conran East Gippsland Photos: Jo Moulton As a Bataluk Cultural Trail site Cape Conran is part of Krowathunkooloong Country where a shell midden denotes a special site or meeting place where people have gathered regularly for many generations to feast, celebrate and perform ceremonies. Acknowledgments: Dr Danièle Hromek is a Cultural Scientist at NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, a Researcher and Spatial Designer Djinjama Indigenous Corporation and former Lecturer, QUT ( Queensland University of Technology) https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielehromek/ Ray Thomas GunaiKurnai Artist see blog @ https://www.sanctuaryeastgippsland.com/post/2019/10/22/ray-thomas-regenerating-culture The Bataluk Trail https://www.batalukculturaltrail.com.au/cape_conran.php

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