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Boondall Wetlands adventure

 

Somewhere between a growl and a moan, the sound of a didgeridoo is unique.  Like Scottish bagpipes, South American pan pipes and the Indian sitar, the didgeridoo is an ancient instrument which instantly evokes a specific cultural landscape; that of the Australian bush and its first people.

For John Bowden, former high school science teacher from Brisbane, it's a pathway to a deeper understanding between black and white Australians and between Australians and the rest of the world.

John is white but has played the didge for 27 years, as a rock musician, a teacher and the originator of a system for transcribing music from conventional instruments. He loves it because of "its earthy, mystical sound" and because it's thoroughly Australian, as is he.

He uses it as part of his work at Boondall Wetlands, where he and Lester Miles, who is an Aborigine, lead the White Fella/Black Fella Tours, exploring the rich cultural heritage of this beautiful patch of wilderness through the bush tucker, bush medicine and cultural history of the place. 

The tour, which costs $165 for a group of up to 30 people takes approximately 2 hours to complete and is an entertaining look at local Indigenous and European heritage with a blend of Aussie yarns and Indigenous storytelling. This session takes students around Billai dhagun (place of Casuarina) track  through various wetland habitats. Tours operate by appointment.

He and Lester, armed with the didge, some clapsticks and examples of Aboriginal weaponry, also give talks for school groups on Aboriginal music and culture, which they both see as an important and sadly neglected area of primary education.

"If you give children an awareness of what the ancient culture was all about, they have a better understanding of their Aboriginal classmates and fellow citizens," says John. "And the Aboriginal kids have a better sense of their own heritage and better self-esteem."

For more information:

Boondall Wetlands Environment Centre
http://www.mountainstomangroves.org/06_education/02d_bwvc.htm
Tel +61 7 3865 5187

About the author
Suzy Young wrote this article

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