As I returned home yesterday from Science Week in the west, I had a chance to reflect on the launch of activities at Hamelin Station Reserve.
Aunty Ada came over on video, and although the acoustics weren’t designed for projection, she came through loud and clear as she delivered a heart-warming welcome. All ears were tuned to Aunty Ada and you could hear a pin drop – not a baby stirred, not a foot shuffled, as she held us all in her hands, welcoming us to Mulgana country and wishing she was there with us. We all wished the same but felt her with us through the whole weekend.
Aunty Ada’s daughter Pat and son Nick also welcomed us with beautiful words and a song especially crafted for the event. This moving, deep welcome to Mulgana country on the event of our weekend to celebrate knowledge kept us warm through the talks even as the wind whistled through the rafters of the shearing shed, on the early morning bird and astonishing wildflower walks where the sun strained to be useful and the trips to the Stromatolites and quarry where our understanding of the ground under us began to inform the biota we had been puzzling all weekend.
Bush Heritage CEO, Gerard O’Neill spoke of his journey into the wild from his childhood walking beside his mother, then down the road he has taken that led to Hamelin Station, including the opportunity to shepherd it into Bush Heritage’s care. Mulgana Traditional Owner, Bianca McNeair taught us language for our native animals and plants, then we were taught to track them by volunteer experts Val and Len Warren. The world of eucalypts was opened up to us before we learned about the geology, seagrass and wildlife of Shark Bay and Bush Heritage efforts to conserve Hamelin Bay and the wider Australian Landscape.
Philosophy and art joined science as we pondered the meaning of transition and how to prepare for and guide it. We photographed, painted and indulged in the art of yarning with our newfound friends. It was a joy to see and talk with so many wonderful people endlessly passionate and knowledgeable about the local environment, how it works and how we can all act to protect it – geeks every one, and all new but fast friends. One final ingredient was added to cement the new bonds – our Station Stay staff, Jacqui, Denise and Dave pulled out all the stops with wonderful volunteers to provide a magnificent dinner and breakfast to feed the grateful hordes.
What do Red-backed Kingfishers, ancient rocks and about 60 geeks have in common? On a particular weekend in August, they can all be found on Bush Heritage’s Hamelin Station Reserve. Maybe next year, we'll see you there.