Welcome to Gundungurra Country

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Image: David Hill Deep Hill Media

by Ellen Hill

Yadhung Buurral! Biimbiigang. G’day! Greetings. Gundungurra man David King (aka Dingo Darbo), a member of the Gundungurra Aboriginal Heritage Association Incorporated and a Gully traditional owner invites you to sit awhile and connect with Country and community.

David is a passionate advocate for Indigenous culture and land management, a well-known educator, and a Blue Mountains bush, land and swamp carer.

He mainly works with traditional custodians conducting walks and talks @dingodarbo and has also worked as a Discovery Ranger at National Parks & Wildlife Services and is the Indigenous engagement officer at Scenic World.

Growing up on Burramattagal clan area, Dharug Country (Parramatta district), “I had a sense of Country, a sense of Aboriginality but no clear connection”.

His mother would take David to Gedumba clan area, Gundungurra Country (Katoomba), as a young fella, and it felt like home. It was an uncle opening the door and David’s mother finally sharing her stories that connection to family and Country began for him.

After three years of isolation and anxiety through the pandemic, David encourages visitors and locals to “sit, get that sense of belonging on this country and then connect with community and learn to talk to each other again”.

Do so to experience depth beyond the world-famous jaw dropping vistas. See the unique biodiversity of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, with its heathlands, open woodland, rainforest and swamp areas, its high country and valley areas.

Watch for changes in the flora. Listen for the call of the black cockatoo (Wumbarrung in Gundungurra language) circling overhead to read the moods and seasons of Gundungurra Country. Embrace quiet and calm.

Like the ceremonial smoke that regularly cleanses the land and its people, David welcomes permanent residents and visitors passing through on holiday or business to embrace community.

“My mum always talked about the yarning [storytelling] circle where everyone sits comfortably together and no one feels excluded.

“She said everyone had a part to play in community and if we didn’t work together, we didn’t survive as a community. I really hope that people see and sense that in our country when they come here.

“Don’t just get up here, get a coffee, hit your walk, get in the car and go home. That’s the same as you do at home. Get a thermos, find a quiet spot and sit for a while.”

There are myriad spectacular locations in the Blue Mountains. David suggests finding an eastern lookout early in the day such as Euroka Clearing or Mount Portal around Glenbrook.

“Then meander up the Mountains to a western escarpment lookout like Cahills or Narrow Neck at Katoomba with a picnic basket so you’re there for sunset.”

Cap the day off with the 1.3km Katoomba Falls Night-lit Walk, walking softly and quietly to hear the bush come alive with nocturnal animals.

Take a whole of Country approach to visiting the Blue Mountains: pause to experience the gentle lower slopes of Glenbrook to Linden, the waterfalls of Woodford to Bullaburra, and the rugged clifflines of Wentworth Falls to Mount Victoria. Then cut across the Darling Causeway to travel down the Bells Line of Road to explore the primordial landscapes off Dargan and Bell, Mount Tomah and Mount Wilson, Bilpin and the upper Hawkesbury.

For millennia, Gundungurra and Darug nations custodians of Country travelled this cultural pathway, following food, water and shelter as nature prompted.

“Caring for Country and community – that is the heart of Aboriginal Australia.”

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