Songspirals: Sharing Women’s Wisdom of Country through Songlines by Gay’wu Group of Women

Song Spirals book in front of monstera plant, with cover image by Gaymala Yunupinu

a nutshell: borne of a decade-long collaboration between five Yolŋu women and three non-Aboriginal women, this profound, intimate, beautiful book is an invitation to learn about milkarri – songspirals cried and keened by women

a line: “It is grief. It is pain. It is joy, love, healing. | It is songspirals.”

an image: for this particular book it’s a near-impossible task to choose just a single image; beauty suffuses every page, particularly as the women share how they walk in kinship with the land, noticing the birds, the dew, the warming sun, the cycles . . .

a thought: with their thousands of generations of knowledge, the women emphasise the need to respect wisdom and of how a wondrous mind learns so much more than a mind that is sick & narrow – living our responsibilities means opening ourselves up to being surprised & transformed and trying to do things that make a positive difference

a fact: Gay’wu Group of Women continually opened my eyes and broadened my understanding of their culture, but crucially they reminded me how much I (we) don’t know – their words are for reflection with regard to our own experiences

want to read Songspirals? visit here

The Secret River by Kate Grenville [T/W: racism, colonialism, sexual assault]

a nutshell: the efforts of a London convict, William Thornhill, to reinvent himself as a gentlemanly landowner on a hillside outside Sydney become a microcosm for the atrocities committed by the British colony against Aboriginal people

a line: “in the world of these naked savages, it seemed everyone was gentry”

an image: every scene with Smasher Sullivan, another ’emancipated’ settler, is extremely disturbing – but among the most horrific is one in which he flaunts an Aboriginal woman he has chained up as his sex slave

a thought: on finishing this bleak book I was (as often) left deeply ashamed of Britain’s imperial history; Thornhill’s exploitation of his eventual position of power – despite, or due to, an impoverished background – is irredeemably repulsive

a fact: the main protagonist, Thornhill, is based on a family member of Grenville; the author used to ask her mother what had happened to Aboriginal people on their ancestors’ arrival and ended up digging into her family history to discover the hideous truths


want to read The Secret River? visit here