Welcome to country by Aunty Joy Murphy

cover image

Ill. by Lisa Kennedy. Black Dog Books, 2106. ISBN 9781922244871
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. The Australian Curriculum 'highlights the special connection to Country/Place by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and celebrates the unique belief systems that connect people physically and spiritually to Country/Place.'
Welcome to Country written by Aunty Joy Murphy a senior Wurundjeri elder of the Kulin alliance and illustrated by Indigenous artist Lisa Kennedy gives insight and understanding into the meaning of connectivity to the place and land. This ceremonial greeting is spoken at the opening of ceremonies, events, school functions and gives permission for visitors to enter traditional lands. As the wedge tail eagle rises from the campfires and soars into the night sky the Wurundjeri greeting is spoken. The dark earthy tones bring the landscape to life, tree-lined meandering rivers, the ancestors' spirits presence and families wrapped in possum skin coats. Each double page spread explains the history, customs and symbols, the Wurun the River White Gum and the Djeri grub and Bunjil the spirit eagle who created all things natural. Aunty Joy Murphy explains the importance of only taking from the land what you can give back and asks for respect of the spirit ancestors.
The concluding welcome pages are most wonderfully painted. The city of Melbourne rises in the background as the Wurundjeri People dressed in traditional and modern day clothes stand by the banks of the Yarra. Fish swim in the flowing blue waters and bright spring flowers line the foreground. There is a layered look to Kennedy's artwork, with her depth of colours and fluid lines she brings the modern and ancient times to life.
Welcome To Country is an important narrative for teachers in schools and kindergartens and for families to share.
Teachers' notes are available.
Rhyllis Bignell