Singing Saltwater Country: Journey to the Songlines of Carpentaria
1 Jan 2010
Allen & Unwin
At 20, John Bradley was sent to teach Aboriginal children in a school at remote Borroloola, on the Gulf of Carpentaria in far north Australia. But it is the teacher who is educated by the Yanyuwa elders and their families. Over three decades he learns their language and their country, becoming intimately drawn into other ways of being, both practical and spiritual. With passion and pride they teach him their songlines, relating what they know and value - ancestors, kin, allegiances; places, plants, animals, seasons, ceremonies, stories - and the spirit that sustains all. As we follow John Bradley on his journey, we begin to see that the songlines are keys to the authority and continuity held by Aboriginal Law. We begin to understand why, when country can no longer be sung, the Yanyuwa feel it so deeply. And what such loss means to us all.