Aboriginal context

Aboriginal associations[1]

 with the

 Interfaith Ashram,

 3227 Warburton Highway,

Warburton.

 

The area

The Interfaith Ashram in Warburton Victoria is located within the Wurundjeri people’s terrirory.[2] There are seven clans that make up the Wurundjeri, and we speak a language called Woiworung. Woiworung country is the entire Yarra Valley from the headwaters of the Yarra River and all of its tributaries down to the Maribyrnong River and Kooyong-koot Creek.

The Yarra

The Yarra River was called Birrarung by the Wurundjeri people who occupied the Yarra Valley and much of Central Victoria prior to European settlement. It is thought that Birrarung is derived from Wurundjeri words meaning “ever flowing”. Another common term was Birrarung Marr, thought to mean “river of mist” or “river bank”.

Upon European arrival it was given the name ‘Yarra Yarra’ by John Helder Wedge of the Port Phillip Association in 1835,[7] in the mistaken belief that this was the Aboriginal name for the river in the Boonwurrung language. However it is believed that ‘Yarra’ means “waterfall”, “flow”, or refers to running or falling water,[1][3][7] descriptive of any river or creek in the area, not just the Yarra. The name Yarra Yarra is said to mean “ever flowing river”,[3] but most likely refers to the Yarra Yarra falls which were later dynamited. Of their contact with local Wurunderi people in 1835, John Wedge wrote:[8]

On arriving in sight of the river, the two natives who were with me, pointing to the river, called out, ‘Yarra Yarra’, which at the time I imagined to be its name ; but I afterwards learnt that the words were what they used to designate a waterfall, as they afterwards gave the same designation to a small fall in the river Werribee, as we crossed it on our way back to Indented Head.[3]

Creation Story

  1. Wurundjeri people believe that Bunjil, the Eaglehawk (or Wedge-tailed Eagle) Ancestor, is greatest of all the Creative Beings. He made the land of the Wurundjeri, and of all our neighbouring peoples – the great Kulin Nation. Then he flew into the heavens to become the Eagle Star (which Europeans call ‘Altair’). Here on earth he is still with us in the form of the Eaglehawk.
  2. We have stories about most of the places around us – rivers and hills and special rocks – and how they were created. Mo-Yarra and other Ancestors created the Yarra by carving its course with their stone axes.

The Ancestors who created these places are still present in them; all the earth is alive with Creative Powers.

True Spring- September, October.

This was a time of plenty. Lilies, Orchids and MURNONG flowered, and still provided root vegetables. Greens were consumed in large quantities. Flowers were everywhere -Wattles, Hop Goodenia, Burgan, Kangaroo Apple, as well as orchids and small lilies which had been building their tubers over the winter. Snakes and Lizards became active, young Kangaroos came out of the pouch. Migrant birds – the Sacred Kingfisher for example, returned from the north. Tadpoles appeared in ponds, and the river, fed by melting snows from the mountains, flowed into the flood-plains and replenished the billabongs. Water-plants put on green leaves. Nowadays this flooding is prevented.

[1] All information is from Wurundjeri Culture Resource Kit, http://nrg.org.au/index_files/Resource_Kit_Preview.pdf accessed 18 October, 2015.

[2] The Wurundjeri people’s territory extended from north of the Great Dividing Range, east to Mount Baw Baw, south to Mordialloc Creek and west to Werribee River.

[3] John Helder Wedge, published in Bonwick (1868).

About interfaithashram

Rev. Dr. John Dupuche is a Roman Catholic Priest, a senior lecturer at MCD University of Divinity, and Honorary Fellow at Australian Catholic University. His doctorate is in Sanskrit in the field of Kashmir Shaivism. He is chair of the Catholic Interfaith Committee of the Archdiocese of Melbourne and has established a pastoral relationship with the parishes of Lilydale and Healesville. He is the author of 'Abhinavagupta: the Kula Ritual as elaborated in chapter 29 of the Tantraloka', 2003; 'Jesus, the Mantra of God', 2005; 'Vers un tantra chrétien' in 2009; translated as 'Towards a Christian Tantra' in 2009. He has written many articles. He travels to India each year. He lives in an interfaith ashram.
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