The majority of bushwalkers are probably not connected directly with the First Nations of this continent. Yet it’s important to be aware of and to respect spiritual and cultural taboos while walking ‘on country’.
Steve Hodder Watt, a Lardil man and Dulmada (Aboriginal custodian/protector) recently wrote an absorbing article for ABC Everyday. He said: ‘When I initially spoke to the…editor about ‘bushwalking’, I instinctively responded that "we are in the bush so it's just walking to us".’ Bushwalkers may often share that sentiment – “it’s just walking to us” – yet we could be walking in an area that has specific reverence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Cultural protocol can be a sensitive topic. Steve notes: “Some people aren't happy discussing such issues and it needs to be said (but shouldn't have to be) that we're talking about sharing of cultural intellectual property that is directly linked to the lands being trodden upon”.
Many of Australia’s iconic walks – such the Larapinta Trail and Grampians/Gariwerd trails – now inform bushwalkers about cultural heritage sites. If you’d like to learn more, you can read the full ABC Everyday article here and get helpful tips for when you’re walking on country.
Image: Parks Victoria