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Growing concern among young Aboriginal community leaders, particularly those in the Borroloola Men's Group, drew them to the idea of re-enacting a walk that hadn't occurred for almost thirty years. 'Livin' in town we've got too much fightin', too much drinkin', too many kids just walk the streets breakin' and stealin'. I reckon that's bad. Out bush is good, no beer, no drink, no breakin' in.'
The Buwarrala Journey is a traditional walk for the Garrwa, Yanyuwa, Mara and Gurdanji peoples of the Gulf of Carpentaria in northern Australia. Practiced for generations as part of the initiation of young boys, the walk was re-enacted in 1988 and documented in the film Buwarrala Agarriya – Journey East. Gadrian Jarwijalmar Hoosan was twelve years old then and was one of four boys or Daru – boys who were prepared for their initiation ceremony. As an adult he had become a mentor to younger men, and directed a new film to record the new re-enactment of the walk in late 2017. The walk involved over one hundred community members – children, their families, teachers and volunteers, who covered a distance of 70 kilometres in seven days.
During the walk, Elders share their strong feelings of connection to land; they teach hunting techniques and traditional dancing which often involves humour and historical storytelling. However traditional owners worry about the security of their country and water because of the impacts of mining and fracking. Passing through light scrub dotted with anthills, beside billabongs and water lilies, across a vast dry plain blackened by burning, a group of children, youth and Elders embrace their cultural heritage.
All this country was here long, long time ago from Dreamtime. And we want to bring all the kids back here, you know, show all the kids all the country and teach them about the country because the country is so important to us. Showing how our ancestors been doing and keeping our culture alive – we want to show the whole world that we still have our culture. – Gadrian Jarwijalmar Hoosan, 2019
Running Time: 52 mins
Classification Exempt for Educational: Ronin Films recommends GENERAL EXHIBITION
ATOM has also produced a study guide for Journey West: Buwarrala Aryah. This study guide is available for download here.