12 August 2019
We would like to acknowledge that this walk takes place on and with Noongar Country, in what is also now known as Perth, Western Australia, and with Derbarl Yerrigan, in what is also now known as the Swan River.
At first, it seemed as though children just wanted to be in the water. As soon as we could see Derbarl Yerrigan someone exclaimed, “I want to go in the water!”.
But look what happens when we take another approach. When we shift our focus. Instead of assuming that children are the protagonists and are the centre of our walks, what happens when we position water and wind as the main players? How might this make room for different kinds of noticings? How might water and wind bring together relations with children, animals, and the world? What kinds of relations emerge?
Emerging from the concrete path, someone said that Derbarl Yerrigan was “rough today”. We noticed something was different about the river. It took a few seconds to realise that the water was moving in a different direction from the last time that we saw it. This time Derbarl Yerrigan was flowing and moving to the right, in a South West direction. It was windy and this must have had something to do with the direction of the river.
Listening to Water-Wind-Child Relations
With wind, Derbarl Yerrigan was putting on a show. A spectacular show that invited us to be with water. Soon, gum boots and socks came off and children were splashing, jumping, and being with water. We wonder, is this what being in good relation looks and sounds like?
With wind, Derbarl Yerrigan was inviting us to taste water, smell water, touch water, and hear water.
Listen to water and wind inviting children into relation. Can you hear how they invite and how new relations are being made?
With wind, Derbarl Yerrigan travels shells, sand, trash, leaves, sticks, jellyfish, feathers, and birds.
With wind, Derbarl Yerrigan forms waves that lap at the drain and seawall and cause bubbles to dance on the surface.
Silver Gull and Pacific Black Duck are watching us when we first arrive and move closer as we settle in and sit at the edge of the water. Do they want our company? Several times Silver Gull makes a loud noise if another bird gets too close to us. It is as if we are her friends.
“Look a feather!” “It’s a black one!”
“Look, another feather!”
“And there, another one.”
In the distance, we can see two Maali (that’s the Whadjuk Noongar name for what we often call black swans).
With wind and water, the two Maali come closer.
Soon, two Maali are looking at us.
They have done this before. We remember how they were curious and swam towards us, getting closer. Do you remember how we watched them bobbing up and down, up and down, up and down? We found out that they were bobbing down to pull up and eat the seagrass. Do you remember how we watched their bottoms bobbing up and down, up and down?
Before we know it, they head back out, past the boats, towards the middle of the river.
Water Stories/Water Memories
Inspired by the Museum of Water commissioned by the Perth Festival, 2018, UK artist Amy Sharroks collected water memories and stories across WA. Each week we will bring a clear glass bottle to save a water story/water memory from our walk. The bottle holds stories/memories of movement and company from today.
Why not ask one of the children about the water, shells, sand, and feather. What stories might they tell?
We also wonder what it might mean to remove the water and these stories/memories from Derbarl Yerrigan? Are these our stories to tell?
Here are some resources that might be useful for walking-with Derbarl Yerrigan:
Dreamtime story of the Black Swan http://whadjukwalkingtrails.org.au/media/black-swan/
Karda-Bidi Walking Trail http://whadjukwalkingtrails.org.au/trails/karda-bidi/pdf/Karda-Bidi-Brochure.pdf
Mindy Blaise and Vanessa Wintoneak