Welcome to Country from Shane Mortimer

At the official opening of Tombarra:

Martin Royds: But the main thing of you to be here is to network, because I feel we’re all in the same family and we’re all going to work toward changing opinions and attitudes and learning about how to make this planet a little better place. My good friend Shane Mortimer, the elder of this area has agreed to do a Welcome to Country for Tombarra. Shane Mortimer.

Kayi – Bullan, Murrinya! Wynukaugo Guumaaldwarra Ngambrimittang. Nalloobidjingalyukunamanahyarrabannydhawarra. In my language that’s: hello Ladies and Gentlemen, a warm welcome to Guumaal Nation, Ngambri Country. An ancient and oceanic sense of right and wrong permeated this land.

It is lovely to have you here to celebrate this auspicious opening. Tombarra, very exciting. Given that we come from many very different backgrounds, I’m sure Martin won’t mind if I make a little bit of a mess. We have a way of uniting everybody as one in our land and it’s a little ochre ceremony. We cast the ochre as a way of acknowledging the soil; the soil being where we’re from, the soil being what provides our sustenance while we’re here, and the soil being to where we return. That’s a very important celebration. It’s also a way of celebrating our elders’ past, and the ancestors, and uniting everybody as one. As we cast the ochre, the ochre rises, and then it drifts, and then it falls. Very simple ceremony. You’ll often see people kicking the ochre. That’s kicking the dust up to unite us. As you see the ochre rise, and then drift, and then fall, so too do our differences and we’re united as one. It’s a simple but solemn ceremony and I invite you to take that in and share that with other people.

I give you a lovely warm welcome and encourage you to enjoy the day. Michael, lovely to see you and to encourage Healthy Soils Australia, one of the most important initiatives in this country. I applaud you to getting right behind that and working as you do. To our special guest, Gary Nairn, I remind you that our people lead the ultimate democracy. Alright? Because it wasn’t only about equal sharing between women and men, it also embraced all of the landscape: the animals, plants, the microorganisms. Everything in the country because they were local (?) people, who hold the local title to the land, our responsibility is to everything below the ground to the core of the earth and everything above the earth to the skies.

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