Wiradjuri Elders

Condo Elders visit Seven Sisters Dreaming Sites

Chris Johnson, Dorothy (Dolly) Towney, Evelyn Coe, Maria Fitzgerald, Lindsay (Dick) Richards, Shirley Merritt, Beryl Powell, Daphne Richter, Robyn Tomkinson, Mervyn (Joe) Coe, Elona Barlow, Todd Coe, Bonnie Merritt, Eugene Coe and Marlene Coe standing before Seven Sisters Ridge near Yarrabandai, on Tuesday, 10 October. Photo by Merrill Findlay.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Wiradjuri elders and younger people from Condobolin visited one of the region’s most significant cultural heritage sites, Seven Sisters Ridge near Yarrabandai, on Tuesday, 10 October, to learn more about their ancient sky lore.
Seven Sisters Ridge is one of many knowledge sites on the Seven Sisters Dreaming Track, or Songline, that is featured in the National Museum of Australia’s new blockbuster exhibition, ‘Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters’. These Dreaming stories tell of seven young women, known as the Mulayndynang in Wiradjuri language, who leapt into the sky to become the stars of the cluster we now know as the Pleiades.
Many on the bus trip, including Marlene Coe from Yawarra Aboriginal Corporation’s Aboriginal Disability Service, had never heard of the Seven Sisters Ridge before this excursion.
“For me, the trip was a big, eye-opening experience’,” Ms Coe said. “I am now beginning to understand how significant the Seven Sisters Ridge and its stories must have been to our ancestors, and I want to know more. After that trip, I feel it’s very important that we recover and record these old stories and pass them on to our younger generations.”
The Elders will soon have an opportunity to record their memories of the stories their own grandparents told them through the Wiradjuri Skywriters Pilot Project, an initiative of Condobolin’s Wiradjuri Study Centre. This project is facilitated by author Dr Merrill Findlay, with the support of the Callara Family History Group and the Murie Elders Project.
Dr Findlay was born in Condobolkin and retains strong family links with the town.
“It’s a great privilege for me to be able to support Condo’s Wiradjuri community to recover and record their stories,” she explained.
“We hope this project will inspire many new creative works, including dances, songs, weavings, paintings, poetry and videos, as well as an Star Fest at the Study Centre to celebrate Wiradjuri astronomy and sky lore, including the Seven Sisters stories.”
Dr Findlay also hopes that many of those on the bus trip will be able to visit the Songlines exhibition at Canberra’s National Museum of Australia see how senior custodians of Australia’s Central and Western desert regions have shared their Seven Sisters.
“After visiting that exhibition I’m sure they’ll to return to Condo with some amazing ideas about what they can do to share their own Seven Sisters heritage.” Dr Findlay said.

 

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