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Boonwurrung Biik (Looking for Shell Middens) (2014)

3-Channel HD Video with Sound, 12:42

Filmed at Narlumbubber (Green Point), Brighton Beach, 2014

The Jim Willis reserve is the only extant native coastal shrub anywhere south of Melbourne. Archaeological evidence of Boonwurrung kitchen shell middens have been found there, showing evidence of the Yulukit Willam Boonwurrung peoples' presence in the area for many thousands of years. The scrub at Narlumbubber is also the place of the death and burial of Benbow, one of two Arweets (chiefs) of the Boonwurrung at the time of European invasion. Boonwurrung oral history describes a time when the Yarra River (Birrarang) extended out into Port Phillip Bay (Naarm) and when the bay itself was a kangaroo ground. Geological evidence suggests this would have been at least 4,000-10,000 years ago, meaning that Boonwurrung oral history extends at least that far. Australian settlers are used to approaching the Australian landscape completely ahistorically, forgetting that only several generations ago the land was infused with Aboriginal life and culture, as it still is today; the Australian landscape is inseparable from the energy and ancestors of its first inhabitants. With the right pair of ears and eyes, one can still feel and sense Boonwurrung life and culture everywhere around Naarm, connected as it is with biik ('Country') all around us. 

Reverence and respect to Narweet Carolyn Briggs and the Boonwurrung Land Council. The artist wishes to acknowledge the Boonwurrung mobs as the traditional custodians and owners of the land on which this film is based and duly pays respect to elders past, present and emerging.

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