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MHS Library | Our Fragile Environment

Nature: Always was and always will be

How do indigenous Australians understand nature?   

How can non-indigenous Australians write creatively about this? 


Listen to this podcast from Wiradjuri man Assoc. Prof Michael Shawn Fletcher who explains how 'Everything is Country' and promotes the obligations of humans to care for nature and the ecosystem of which they are a part. He argues for indigenous management of country. He says of 'wilderness' (landscape in absentia of humans) that it essentially denies the role of people in it and how they have shaped it and managed and maintained biodiversity. He explains that indigenous people are often denied humanity and the knowledge of environment. 

Hard Rubbish by Alex Zubryn

Municipal Gum by Oodgeroo Noonuccal 

Gumtree in the city street, 

Hard bitumen around your feet, 

Rather you should be 

In the cool world of leafy forest halls 

And wild bird calls 

Here you seems to me 

Like that poor cart-horse 

Castrated, broken, a thing wronged, 

Strapped and buckled, its hell prolonged, 

Whose hung head and listless mien express 

Its hopelessness. 

Municipal gum, it is dolorous 

To see you thus 

Set in your black grass of bitumen-- 

O fellow citizen, 

What have they done to us? 

'Municipal Gum' by Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Poetry Analysis Video) 

30 authors in a day

The Yield

Read an extract from Australian indigenous author Tara June Winch's award-winning novel, The Yield. 





The Yield

New Shoots - poems inspired by plants

Wurrungwuri, Royal Botanic Garden Sydney by Eileen Chung 





bedrock. we forget: under 

this city lies yellowblock, 

sweep of sandstone – 


restless buckle, shards 

and monoliths this side 

of the sea – bolted into 


dry movement, tossed heads 

and abrupt angles, a people 

compressed, filtered histories 







         cupping pebbles 

          in both hands – 

    sun-weighted, complete 


   to bore through the heart 

      of each quartz stone: 

strung on steel – a giant’s plaything 


    the emptiness within: 

         spiralled hives 

for upside-down life by night 

Snugglepot and Cuddlepie

Gurrumul Yunupingu


Read about Gurrumul Yunupingu, an indigenous Australian singer songwriter 

Listen to his song:  

Wukun which addresses storm clouds in his native language 


Read the lyrics to Wukun 


Y.o Wuku?? al? alyunmin. dharayirryirryuwan Dharapinda 

Dhawal mukthuwan Gayku Mawuymana Watharrakarr Djunuu? gu? u 

Waywayyuwan Djarrara? Milbu? ou?. Yarawarrtji Yarrawar? ura 

Ga? tjurrwan? u Wurrumba.? uku? uku Mämin? u 


Wuku?? al'? alyunmin. wuku? dhu dhawal galmuwan 

Mayawungarri Mayawuku Galapunbarri mala-wu? kthuwan wuku? 


Yä m? uwana, y? märiwana 

Nhalpiyan wuku? mala-wulkthuwan. dharayirryirryuwan Dharapinda 

Waywayyuwan wuku? dhu wirilgalapuwan 

Dhawal rakaran Ga? apaltjiwa 

Ga? apal? ura Yiwur? a, Gawun? ura? ambawili 


Waywayyuwan Mali-Wotjawuynha, Gapinynha Dharrapa? annha 

Bulurruma Galtha? ikpa. Milmari Ganambarrnha 


Yä m? uwana, y? märiwana 

Nhalpiyan wuku? mala-wu? kthuwan. Dharayirryirryuwan Dharapinda 




Y.o Storm clouds rising, storm clouds forming 

The country is still, Gayku Mawuymana Watharrakarr Djunu? gu? u 


Heading to Djarrara? Milbu? pu?. Yarawarrtji Yarrawar? ura (Gälpu nation seas) 

Ga? tjurrwan? u Wurrumba.? uku? uku Mämin? u 


Storm clouds rising, storm clouds covering the land 

Storm clouds Mayawungarri Mayawuku Galapunbarri separating 


Oh my fathers, on my grandparents 

Storm clouds why do you separate, why do you form? 


Storm clouds covering the country, heading towards 

Saying, to the country of Ga? apaltji 

Ga? apal? ura Yiwur? a, Gawun? ura? ambawili 


Heading towards the Mali-Wotjawuy, Gapiny Dharrapa? an 

Bulurruma Galtha? ikpa. Milmari Ganambarr nations 


Oh my father, on my brandparents 

Storm clouds why do you separate, why do you form? 



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Read about how non-indigenous Australians might write about Aboriginal connection to Country here: