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Dadirri and what it means to be a custodian of the land

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Introduction:

Recently Miss Angie, an educator at Explore & Develop Penrith South went on a dream holiday to the Daintree Rainforest. Whilst she was away she kept in touch with the children in the preschool room by posting a daily diary on Kinderloop. 

The children created a visual learning map where they tracked Miss Angies travels and learnt vicariously through her holiday experiences.

Angie Yarning:

It’s hot and humid, the birds are singing and you can hear the sweet sound of the water flowing up the sand and back down again. I stand in awe of this magnificent place, looking at the tree’s as I feel the sand between my toes. I look out towards the middle of the ocean, seeing blue as far as the eye could see. I turn around and I’m met with tree after tree. It’s a rainforest. The most beautiful rainforest in the world. The Daintree.

I never thought that the Daintree would look as beautiful as this, right down to the glistening sun that shines off the top of the water. As I start to walk back through the rainforest, I’m met with mangroves, creeping along the ground, sinking into the creek beds. I hear noises, I wonder what it is. Is it a crocodile that I know like to inhabit the mangroves. Is it a fish that is swimming in the creek? Is it a cassowary that makes the Daintree its home. Endless possibilities in an ecosystem that supports many.

How beautiful this country is. It makes me so proud that I get to call this home. This is how I connect to country, my connections to the land string out as far as I can make them. As far as I can see, I know that I can explore. To see some of these untouched parcels of land I think to myself what it would have looked like hundreds of years ago when the first peoples set foot on this precious land. From all that I have learnt, I can see how the Kuku Yalanji take pride in their land. How they use the land to thrive and continue to practice their beliefs and values. I can even imagine them hunting for fish along the beach, emerging from the rainforest as warriors supporting their tribes. As I hear Miss Caitlin’s voice tell me to slowly move and open my eyes I am brought back to the present, to the Grasshopper Room.

Jess Yarning:

What is Dadirri?

Dadirri means inner deep listening. For me its about connecting to land. Its becoming intune and connected to the spirit of mother earth.

At Explore & Develop Penrith South the educators have been introducing the concept of Dadirri with the children through a guided visualisation. 

Caitlin Yarning:

‘But will the forest still be here when I come back?’. This is the closing rhetorical statement and poignant question that Jeannie Baker asked in her book "Where the Forest Meets The Sea"

We asked this same question to the group of children in the preschool room as we compared and reflected on the changes that the land has endeavoured and what still awaits us in the future.

We compared the beautiful photos Miss Angie shared with us from her holiday in the Daintree Rainforest, to the illustrations in the book. It didn't take the children long to understand the impacts of deforestation. The children agreed unanimously that its not okay for the animals to suffer, the land to suffer or the people to suffer.

Why destroy something so beautiful when we should be caring for it, nurturing it and loving how beautiful it really is? This book has been central in supporting the children to understand our daily acknowledgement of country in practice and what it means to be a custodian of the land. 

As we explored the Daintree further, we learnt about the animals that live there and the Aboriginal community that still live there today. Throughout this learning experience, we also learnt about traditions in the top end of Australia, from Cairns all the way to Cape York and then along to the Northern Territory and down to Alice Springs. We learnt about various ancient traditions and how they differ from contemporary perspectives that we were more familiar with.

Children's Voices:

‘We need to make sure that the people don’t knock the tree’s down’ some of the children say.

It’s about choices. We need to make the right choice and preserve our precious land as much as we can.

Otherwise. One day. The forest wont be there when we come back…

 

 By Caitlin White and Angie Camilleri

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