Songlines of Country

Songlines of Country (SoC) is an oral history and multimedia project. It will track three significant Songlines (Baiame, the Mundaguddah and the Seven Sisters) and their travelling routes – from the Flinders Ranges in northeast SA to the Darling River in northwest NSW, into the Corner Country and southwest QLD.

This project is funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council. It has been created in partnership between Community, Taragara and the University of New England.

Lead Chief Investigator Lorina Barker is a descendant of the Wangkumara and Muruwari people (northwest NSW), Adnyamathanha (Flinders Rangers SA), Kooma and Kunja (southwest QLD), and Kurnu-Baarkandji (northwest NSW). Lorina is an oral historian / filmmaker / artist who uses multimedia for community art-based projects to transfer knowledge, history, stories and culture to next generations, in familiar mediums including visual art, digital media, short stories and poetry.

Led by Senior Knowledge Holders / Elders / Community, professional and emerging artists will physically follow the Songlines.

On Country workshops will be held at significant sites during field trips – creating space for Elders / Community to share stories of Songlines utilizing contemporary media that enables transfer of ancient knowledge to younger audiences.

It is envisioned that people will sing the Songlines, perform the Songlines, speak the language of the Songlines, and immerse themselves in the Songlines using virtual reality / 3D animation / film techniques.

Each trip concludes with presentation of work and opportunity for artists / community to collaborate on development of final project outcomes (including a book, artworks and digital record).

Outcomes will be collaborations between artists, Elders and communities. SoC will impact across generations and cultures – enabling mainstream access to three significant Songlines and fostering respect of Aboriginal lore utilising multimedia for knowledge transference. Knowledge historically handed down via an oral tradition will be shared via contemporary media familiar to younger generations / non-Aboriginal people – expanding popular audiences’ understanding of Aboriginal knowledge’s significance, the reliability of its transmission, pertinence to Aboriginal peoples’ wellbeing and Australia.

Positive engagement with non-Aboriginal community is important. SoC has potential to debunk ideas that Aboriginal stories are ‘legends’ and reframe them as lore.

Aboriginal community partners are intrinsic. The project team will be guided by local Aboriginal people employed as SoC Community Liaison Officers and Cultural Advisory Groups who will build relationships with the project from within community.

Partners include Murdi Paaki Assembly, University of New England, Regional Arts NSW, Country Arts SA, National Parks Wildlife Service, Ngemba, Baarkandji and Muruwari Joint Management Committees, Nipapanha Community Aboriginal Corporation, Maranguka Community Hub, Bourke Aboriginal Health Service and organisations including Elders’ groups and Local Aboriginal Lands Councils.

Songlines of Country news and media:

Internationally recognised filmmaker to work with Community to share Songlines

Lacey Barker, Dr Sue Anderson (University of South Australia), Dr Sadie Heckenberg (Swinburne University of Technology), Tony Briggs (Typecast Entertainment), Cherene Spendelove, Damienne Pradier (Typecast Entertainment), Dr Lorina L. Barker (University of New England). Photo by Moorina Bonini.

‘Songlines of Country’ has been created in partnership between Community and Taragara. It is supported by the University of New England, communities, organisations and funding bodies in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.

Research was funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council.