Aboriginal people know that Country is more than what is seen. Country is where culture and spirit reside, it is their places of origin and where they find belonging.
Country is a holistic worldview that unites all those who share Country.
Country is sentient and can communicate, it holds all knowledge and languages in place, and provides wellbeing and understandings of identity.
Country provides everything for us to live healthy lives including food, water, air, fire and shelter. As part of this reciprocal relationship, it is our responsibility to respectfully care for Country in return.
Caring for Country comes in many different forms based on the land management practices Aboriginal people have always used. These practices reflect the diversity expressed through different ecosystems, and they contribute to continuing culture and sustainable living. One important part of these practices is walking Country.
Walking Country allows you to know Country intimately, to experience every sense, smell and sight; what parts of Country feels like to touch, its soundscapes and the tastes that come from the gifts of the land. Other senses, such as balance, which gives spatial orientation, and body position, which controls body awareness. They come alive when walking Country.
There are also senses important to knowing Country, such as the sense of place, or the being, spirit, culture and physical understandings that make a place unique.
Sensing Country is part of hearing, relating to and responding to the communications that come from Country. Movement gives the capacity to access Country so that care activities can take place.
We all live on Country and all have a responsibility to know and care for Country. Spending time walking Country, tapping into each sense, using every feeling to read the environment and allowing Country to infiltrate us is important to our wellbeing.
These connections foster belonging and healing, which is important to all people who share Country.
About the writer
Dr Danièle Hromek is a Budawang woman of the Yuin nation. She works as a cultural designer and researcher considering how to Indigenise the built environment by creating spaces to substantially affect Indigenous rights and culture within an institution.