November 20 - 26, 2022: Issue 563


Barley Ki Giballee: You And Me Come Together, The Exhibition - Avalon 100 Celebrations (2021 - 2022)

Our Resident Indigenous Guides - Left to right: Noah Smith, Corey Kirk and her youngsters, Uncle Neil Evers.

Photo: A J Guesdon.

Over the course of the past year the Avalon Beach Centenary events have brought the whole community together, from the very young to those with may grey hairs, in a celebration of community.

On Saturday November 19th the second last in this year long programme of events was the opening of the Barley Ki Giballee: You and Me Come Together, Collaborating Connecting and Caring For Country Exhibition. 

This, project initiated by brilliant Avalon Beach photographer Sally Mayman, working with Sandy Chockman, Visual Arts Teacher at Barrenjoey High School and the Year 8 students, along with the Year 5 students from Avalon Primary school, have experienced their immediate environment and been challenged to extend their knowledge of Avalon’s history, culture, flora and fauna, emphasising First Nations knowledge of place. 

The students were privileged to be guided by local Indigenous Creatives Corey Kirk and Aleta Wassell. 

Corey spent time walking on country, Avalon Beach country, introducing to them to familiar places with ancient songs. The flow of the seasons, what unfolds from these in flower, in wildlife, in the turns of the sea and breezes was a revelation of knowledge shared. 

As Sally explained prior to the opening; ''Corey has been walking a lot with us on country, just taking the kids along the creek, down to the beach, through the sand dunes and explaining what all the medicinal properties of different plants are and what their uses would have been for so many things. For instance, when they go down to the beach they can use soapy wattle and give themselves a good clean – if they cut themselves they could use pigface on their cuts; just lots of little things so that they’ve suddenly gone ‘oh wow’. People knew a lot and that’s getting carried forward. The kids have really enjoyed this and had never come across much of this knowledge. It has really opened their eyes as to what’s around them.''

Sandy Chockman explained the students have really thrived through the project and it has deepened the connections between all generations, ''This has crossed boundaries between school and family and country and brought everyone together as one community and really has connected everyone to country, which is  great.''

Left to right: BHS's Sandy Chockman, Sally Mayman and Corey Kirk

Uncle Neil Evers, a descendant of another local ancestor, Broken Bay man Bungaree, has also been helping.

On Saturday afternoon he gave a Smoking Ceremony and the Welcome to Country. All ages joined in the cleansing tradition, provided music with clapsticks, and then heard from Uncle Neil more about the place we stood in.

On the bank of the hill that rises at the southern end of Avalon Beach is a deposit of sacred ochre, used in ceremonies. Ochre is a very pure and sacred substance, the same substance that has been used for many thousands of years as a fundamental part of Aboriginal life and culture. For Indigenous people, ochre is a precious resource.

In the bush reserves around the valley are sites that would have been home to indigenous families, the boulders on the hills all would have had songs about them, there were women's places, men's places, and places that are marked as food places in season by the marks on the trees, or shorelines where people gathered to fish. One of the ancient songlines for this country is the Black Duck Songline which runs right through Avalon and finishes at the Hawkesbury river - that's why it's so wonderful to still see these paddling around in Careel Creek. A cave inside one of these Avalon Beach and valley reserves contains images of a 'lady' research has shown is well over 2000 years old.

''This place was a paradise for my ancestors as seen in all these places and parts of the landscape and all the evidence still in Avalon Beach of where they lived and what they did here. '' Uncle Neil explained

''Unfortunately much more has been covered up by concrete by those who did not know what they were doing, or did not care.''

''It was a beautiful place then, and it remains a beautiful place now.

''The works the students have created are outstanding, they have all done a wonderful job. It's time for us all to go and look at their great work.

On behalf of the ancestors I Welcome you To this Country.


The Sacred Ochre site at Avalon Beach

Uncle Neil Evers, points out the Sacred Ochre site

The Barley Ki Giballee: You and Me Come Together, Collaborating Connecting and Caring For Country art project used an old photographic process called the cyanotype and the students made forty 2.5 metre long material banners - these are for sale, although you better be quick, they were disappearing fast Saturday.

The students also learnt a lot about the indigenous system of totems.

Sally explained; ''The whole system of totems is quite complex. You may have four totems, which may be your mob totem but also you can have your family totems and your personal totem. So there are lots of layers of totems. 

The wonderful thing about having a totem is it’s your responsibility to educate people around that totem. For instance, say my totem was an emu and you came along at one stage and took an emu egg at the wrong time of the year. I would actually be punished because I hadn’t taught you well enough that you did not understand that could not take that egg at that stage because it’s unsustainable. 

This brings in this wonderful idea of looking after country and sharing knowledge and educating each other on how to look after country. So this has been a real eye-opener to the kids as well.

We asked them to all think about, and ask their parents, what their totem would be. So they have all chosen a totem and made these beautiful line drawings onto pavers. We’re going to bring those into the surf club for the exhibition but then they’re going to end up in a yarning and healing circle in the school.''

The Exhibition will be open this  Sunday 10 - 4pm, November 20th, in the Avalon Beach surf club. 

More in: Connecting To Country – Barley Ki Giballee: You And Me Come Together - Avalon Beach Centenary Event; Another Great Sally Mayman Collaboration Realised and Avalon Beach Culture Collective Inc + Avalon Beach Centenary Events  

A few more pictures from the Opening of the  Barley Ki Giballee: You and Me Come Together, Collaborating Connecting and Caring For Country Exhibition run below.

This was a wonderful opening to be a part of - the Avalon Beach Centenary celebrations have brought so much joy to the community and initiated so many positive actions - such as the planting of 100 trees. More food for all the wildlife whose songlines still run through here!

The final Avalon Beach Centenary will be the unveiling of the Avalon 100 Quilt on Friday November 25th, 4-6pm.

Anna Maria Monticelli and Tamara Sloper Harding, in conjunction with artist Bruce Goold and Neil Evers, Aboriginal Support Group Manly Warringah Pittwater– with sponsorship from Barbara Herman of Avalon's Organics, have been working on a Centenary Quilt project for permanent display in the Avalon Recreation Centre.

Avalon Beach Centenary events organisers Cr. Miranda Korzy and Ros Marsh with Miranda's daughter Zoe at the Opening of the Exhibition

Avalon Beach Centenary events organiser Roger Treagus and his wife Jan McLean