Understanding the Community
A community is made up of people, that is, a group of families sharing common interests and goals. Therefore, a community is established with certain values, and gradually, these values, together with the territorial definition of a group of people, shape the peoples’ thoughts and culture. Waters and rocky landscapes surround the Gundungurra people, which formed part of their beliefs as a community.
They majorly speak the Ngunnawal dialect and dress according to changes in weather. In the past times, it is said that the aboriginal people make clothing out of animal skin and fur to cover up against cold nights. Their geographical make-up influenced their beliefs greatly; for instance, the belief in the healing water, the representation of the Jenolan Caves, and the special totem owned distinctively by various communities.
Their foods are borne out of their interactions with nature. They usually caught animals and gather larvae on their way to Jenolan. However, the Gundungurra believe in maximum utilisation of their source of feeding resources and sustenance. Therefore, they do not interfere in animal creatures’ growth or reproduction process. They have a suitable pattern that allows animals to breed and plants to grow.
In the Blue Mountains, there is usually the Gundungurra Traditional Bush Healing & Smoking ceremony. The smoking ceremony is performed by burning certain traditional plants to produce smoke. The Berrigan Emu bush is a common plant that serves this purpose among the Aboriginal people. The herbs are believed to have strong antimicrobial elements that prevent infections and scare evil spirits away. Also, by burning Boreen leaves, a cleansing rite is performed.
Furthermore, the medicinal quality of the Gungungurra native herbal bush remedies has been advertised over the years. It can be used to remove the wart and has been passed down from generation to generation.
Nowadays, the smoking practices form part of “welcome back to the country ceremony” and other ceremonies such as circumcision ceremony or a new-born ceremony. Welcome back to the country is a ceremony performed as part of the Gundungurra people’s recognition as the traditional custodian of lands and whose culture has largely influenced those of native aboriginals and Australia at large. The welcome back to the country is an incorporation process of visitors into the area, and the period of the ceremony largely depends on the size of the major event. It is the first agendum on any event list.
The ceremony is simply the welcoming of people into the land. There is also the acknowledgment of a country that recognises the rights and significant impacts of the Gundungurra nation and respect for their cultural heritage. A Gundungurra elder must perform a welcoming ceremony. Therefore, any aboriginal native or representative who is planning an event should consult with us to seek guidance on the community representative, elders to be called upon, the appropriate procedure, and the distinction between welcome back to the country and acknowledgement of the country.