Marda, hand, shifting sand

Posted by on May 3, 2013 in One River Mitchell | 2 Comments

Sharing the river space with families and children, seeking solace or reinvigoration are collective experiences of many community members of Mitchell and the Maranoa. I’ve experienced this myself when meeting two separate groups while soaking paper in the sites of the Yumba and at the confluence of the Topaz and Maranoa this last week.

Meeting with Gunggari community members and their families while soaking paper in the river.

Meeting with Gunggari community members and their families while soaking paper in the river.

Gunggari elder Aunty Irene Ryder and Lynette Nixon recall memories of growing up at the Yumba on the banks of the Maranoa. They have a direct connection to their ancestors along this river. The river has been a place of births and deaths as well as burials and corroborees. For these women and many others the Yumba is “home and always will be”.

Lynette recalls her father telling her about marda, the hand, which signifies the headwaters of the 5 rivers that begin in the Carnarvon and another word meaning shifting sands, a main characteristic of the Maranoa. The junction of water ways was always a meeting point for indigenous peoples as Lynette explains and often indicating boundaries of groups.

Their family’s children joined us on the bank and placed collected vegetable matter on the soaking roll and then the paper was left over night. We tasted some bush tomatoes as we sat in a shaded space often used by the Gungarri women and the young ones to share time in being together.

See time lapse video by Darcy Foott of this morning.

Early the next morning I pulled the submerged paper out and left it to dry on the sloping bank for 2 days. The wind had ripped it in half when I retrieved it but decided to replace it partially in the river for another night amongst the river pebbles and reeds.

group under leaves copyMeanwhile I visited the confluence of the Topaz creek with the Maranoa River with a group of local artists. Between boiling the billy for cups of tea and talking about the significance of the river everyone experimented with their various mediums in the riverbank. We talked about many angles of thought about the river from enjoying riding, walking and exploring the different wildlife to infestations of certain weeds spreading across the Murray Darling System, particulary after the flood.

In the aftermath of the flood, Mel and Laura talked about the grey mud silt landscape that was the town of Mitchell and the communal clean up afterwards. Keeping track of their buckets and mops, and the townspeople riding in backs of utes around the town going from house to house are memories  that counteracted the hardships faced during this time.

river flow over paper showing eucalyptus oil and sedimentsWe all agreed that having a waterhole of some sort nearby is a wonderful thing to have in life. It gives a sense of freedom.

Ian, a local carpenter/builder of the Dunkeld area said he always feel safe on the river. Whenever he camps, its always on a watercourse.

This site was lucky enough (for my paperwork) to contain elements of iron, a rich ochre colour, The underside of the paper resulted in an imprint of the flow and movement of

the iron through the water whereas the top side is more subtle and includes eucalyptus paper in river bed oil deposits and stains from the sand and upper flow of the water.

Another site I visited recently was the Merivale confluence. The Merivale is a spring fed river and therfore I chose a smooth hot pressed roll of paper, in an attempt to capture more fine sediment.  Local property owners took me to this site, a short walking distance from climbing over a barb wire fence. The first time I visited the site, both rivers were running but when I returned a month later, the spring fed river ran over the sand bed of the Maranoa. Jenny Walker documented the rolling up of paper.

confluence merivale and maranoa

Comments - 2 Comments
  1. Malcolm McKinnon
    May 14, 2013

    Hoy Jude,

    That’s a beautiful collection of pics, and a well told story.

    I’m looking forward to seeing some pics of all the papers in the gallery at Mitchell at the end of your show…



  2. Michael baartz
    May 30, 2013

    Thanks Jude.
    I was reminded of the Vietnamese artist Vu Dan Tan ( died recently, but represented in the QLD Art Gallery) who truly believed that ‘BEAUTY’would save the world.
    He would have loved to help you with this wonderful project.


Leave a Reply

What is 5 + 2 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! Help us fight spam - do the math.