RATAS walks with WOTI

From gallery space (Performing Mobilities at Margaret Lawrence Gallery) to outdoor space…

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The invitation:

Walking Upstream: A short wander up Edgars Creek in Coburg North

The visiting WOTI (Waterways of the Illawarra) team – Kim Williams, Brogan Bunt, Lucas Ihlein – from NSW will be hosted by creek enthusiast Karina Quinn for a meander up her local waterway. You are invited to join us on this exploration of a slender riparian corridor wending its way through diverse land-uses, including residential suburbs, recreational amenities and industrial facilities.

Wandering Edgars Creek is also a way of inaugurating the International Creek Walking Network (ICWaN – contact: info@walking-upstream.net), which promotes perambulation as a practice of inhabiting these oft-contested waterways.

The response:

You had me with “exploration of a slender riparian corridor wending its way through diverse land-uses”!! I’d love to join you!

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riparian |rʌɪˈpɛːrɪənadjective

  • relating to or situated on the banks of a river
  • Ecology relating to wetlands adjacent to rivers and streams

The gathering, the listening, the walking…

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The Manifesto (from Brogan Bunt):

“We willingly explore all manner of waterway. We do not privilege the natural or disparage the artificial. We recognise that every waterway is an assemblage. All we request is that we can follow a waterway – that we can pass along or beside it. We leave it to the next generation of WOTI practitioners to crawl and squirm through more inhospitable lines.”

And the (very urban) Welcome to Country…

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(one) Story of the Creation (from the Merri Creek Management Committee):

The following story was told by William Barak, Wurundjeri-willam elder, to William Howitt, Assistant Protector of Aborigines, who recorded Wurundjeri-willam history at the time.

Bunjil the great creative spirit, having formed the earth and carved its features, decided to bring humanity into existence. Bunjil gathered up a quantity of clay from a river bed, divided it into two and placed both portions on large sheets of bark cut from a gum tree. He worked the clay into the shape of two men and took stringy bark from the trees to use as hair.

Bunjil was pleased with his work and danced around the figures he had made. He blew air into their mouths, nostrils and navels and filled them with life. Pallian, the brother of Bunjil, had been given control of all the rivers, creek and billabongs.

Pallian began to thump the water with his hands in the same manner as Wurundjeri women would beat possum skin rugs when their men danced a corroboree. The water became thicker and thicker and took on the shape and appearance of two women. Bunjil gave each man a spear and provided each woman with digging stick.

And maybe this is as close as we get to what might have been…

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In a happy East-West conjunction, Perth poet and swamp walker Nandi Chinna writes in the introduction to her collection, SWAMP: Walking the Wetlands of the Swan Coastal Plain:

“I am walking through space that is also time and history. The stories enter my stride as I walk and are recorded on the map that is being walked into my body.”

Or, again from Brogan Bunt:

A MANIFESTO OF FOLLOWING
What are the implications of following? Where does following lead?
Instead of trying at every instant to do something new.
Instead of commenting wryly on the past.
Instead of feeling stuck.
Instead of lamenting the disappearance of the future.
Instead of attending to a restrictive past.
Instead of strictly following.
Instead of strictly going astray.
Instead of imagining that following is a simple process.
Instead of imagining that following is especially hard.
We follow. We follow following. We follow following wherever it leads.

And maybe that is as good as it gets… a happy dance with happy feet 😉

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PS they’re not without humour, these WOTI-types

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