As the morning sun breaks through the low cloud
I feel the spirits of the ancestors speaking in the distant calls of the black cockatoos
The chirping of unrecognisable bird calls and tiny insects herald the start of a new day
In the distance black swans, totem of the Yuin people
Glide gracefully on the surface of Wallaga Lake
Pied Oystercatchers tip toe on the mudflats feasting on molluscs
Black butterflies sip nectar around me
If you can still your mind, you might recognise the wind playing a melody
The whistling rises to a climactic crescendo before gently falling back into a stillness
Lasting for seconds before a new rhythm begins to play
The flap of a pelican’s wings breaks my meditation and I turn around
In the bushes, two kangaroos are watching me intently
Alert but unafraid as I approach them slowly
We share a moment in time before I turn and make tracks to my own breakfast.
Our feet scrunch on the shells at Fairhaven Midden—one of the largest on the Eastern seaboard
Aboriginal people travelled these routes for millennia, from the north and from the south
They came for Whale Dreaming ceremony; to share stories while feasting and searching for wives
They dined on octopus, fish, eels, prawns and mussels
The empty shells piled up at this midden speaks to me of the bounty of this region
This midden stretches for more than 7 acres; 4m deep and a 100 metres across.
Parts of these ancient trading routes still exist in the wild country
This is how the white explorers penetrated this land
Guided by ancient clans who had no idea of what lay in store.
If only the trading routes could speak, what stories would they tell?
Now transformed into the roads and highways that criss cross our nation
How many of us travelling the Princes or the Hume
Realise we are traversing a pathway older than the Silk Road
More ancient than the Pyramids
These Songlines have been here for more than 40,000 years
The secrets of the old people buried forever beneath the bitumen
Little evidence of the ancient stories remain, yet
At Wallaga Lake there are glimpses of the Garden of Eden that Australia once was
But the signs of forbidden fruit that have been plucked are all around me
Landscapes altered forever by unsustainable mining, over fishing and clear felling of old growth forests
Reminding us that this is how Paradise was Lost.