Volume 31 Issue 14 20 May 2022 19 Iyyar 5782

From the Social Action Va’ad

On Thursday 12 May 2022, fifteen Year 11 and 12 students went on an excursion to Centennial Park to learn more about the traditions practiced by Gadigal and Bidjigal people, who lived close to the land where Emanuel School stands today.

One of the main focuses of the event was to gain awareness of the many sustainable practices that were carried out by Indigenous people to care for that land over centuries. We engaged in storytelling and verbal teachings – the main way of education practiced by Indigenous people. Thanks to this visit we are much more knowledgeable of the many ways that nature provides to allow for our survival. For example, we learnt about plants such as the Lomandra or ‘survival plant’, which can be used for: weaving (of baskets, shelter and tool making), nutrition, as it contains starch as a carbohydrates, and hydration, by chewing on the white root. 

We also learnt about the Paperbark Tree and its traditional uses. Hot tip – the dust on the paper bark is anti-bacterial and produces tea tree, so it works as a ‘bush bandage’. Additionally, bark from a paperbark tree can often be used for bedding and shelter as it reflects off heat and keeps any shelter cool. Paperbark can also be used as foil when wet for when cooking – especially for use in an underground oven. 

We also learnt about traditional hunting practices and tools used in hunting, including the woomera, boomerangs and bullroarer. 

The woomera is a spear launcher that allows for spears to release with ease saving some of the energy required by hunters. 

We also learnt about three types of boomerangs; the classic boomerang, the killer/combat boomerang and the kangaroo boomerang. The classic boomerang is used for hunting birds and, when thrown, will return in the same trajectory. The killer/combat boomerang was used in the frontier wars and is more currently used for flocks of birds. Lastly, the kangaroo boomerang is a heavier weapon used with more force in order to hunt larger animals. 

Finally, we learnt the impact of commemoration building such as the Federation Pavilion has on Indigenous people. Our guide explained that for him it is a reminder of a time when he, as an Indigenous person, would not have been allowed in the park talking to not Indigenous people like he is allowed today.

Although we have visited Centennial Park countless times, this excursion allowed us to gain a new perspective and respect for the many ways that the land has provided and continue to provide for us every day. We have gained a new respect for the Gadigal and Bidjigal people, that, as custodians of this land have ensured it survives across generations.  

By the Social Action Va’ad