Connection to Country – Space Magazine

January 11, 2023

I feel truly honoured to share my culture with visitors,” says Aunty Joanne “Jo” Honeysett as she stands tall on Country, draped in a possum skin cloak she has lovingly stitched by hand.

Kneeling to pat down the pile of gum leaves on the fire pit, she teases out a pure white cloud of smoke that dances with rhythm and purpose. The stage is set to commence a “danderrum”- a traditional welcome smoking ceremony.

One by one, she invites her group members to bathe in the smoke to cleanse their spirit and start their journey of connection to her Country Taungurung Country.

There’s something special about being on Taungurung Country, whether it’s standing atop The Horn of Mt Buffalo at sunrise, sitting silently by the Goulburn River listening to the birdlife or walking beside an oven mound in Nagambie to respect the wisdom and ingenuity of Taungurung ancestors.

And for Aunty Jo. it also goes deeper. As a proud Taungurung woman and mother to seven older children, she made a life-changing decision five years ago. She was retired and living in Tyabb (Bunurong Country) but felt something was missing. She packed her backpack, left the house, bought a motorbike and followed her dream to move home to Taungurung Country.

While it was tough at first with nowhere to live, she trusted that her ancestors would look after her.

Sure enough, she got a job with the Taungurung Land and Waters Council in a community role, found a house in Alexandra and everything fell into place Soon after, all her kids followed.

The move back to Taungurung Country renewed her “fire in the belly” and enabled a better connection to the wider Taungurung community who are reclaiming a shared sense of identity. common purpose and cultural vitality. Never in her wildest dreams did she envisage she’d be knocking back retirement to be a tour guide- but the opportunity to share her story and passion for culture was too exciting to ignore. “It’s not a job, it’s a passion,” she explains.

Aunty Jo is one of five guides who will be leading guests on immersive cultural experiences on Country. Her son Jonah is also taking up the role.

Aunty Jo believes tourism gives Taungurung people a voice. “It’s the opportunity to share our story-a story that no one else has authority to share: to build relationships, educate people and create awareness of Taungurung aspirations. We’ll take an honest and upfront approach to meet visitor expectations but provide excitement and surprises, too.”

Some people might be anxious about joining a cultural tour for fear of saying the wrong thing. but Aunty Jo reassures “there’s no right or wrong questions”.

She explains Taungurung tour guides “believe in professionalism, teamwork and have a willingness to share cultural information in a friendly and welcoming way. Tourism to us means creating a safe space for you to connect with us and our culture. learn and give back to our community and Country. After all. it’s our shared Country and culture that we can all take pride in.”

This story originally appeared in Space Spring 2022 magazine published by the Herald Weekly Times
Take a closer look at the beautiful images on the wawa biik website and newsletter. You may notice they communicate not only the warmth and excitement of the wawa biik journey, but also hint at the pride and connection that the photographer Hunter Callaghan has to his mob and Country. Hunter belongs to the Nira-illim Bulluk Clan of the Taungurung Nation and was born and raised in the western suburbs of Naarm, Bunurong Country. He works as a content producer for RMIT University but is also a freelance photographer driven to capture the faces and places that tell the Taungurung story. Check out our yarn with Hunter to find out more about his culture and photography. Link in bio

#gonagambie #tahbilk #kooriepride #culture #taungurungcountry #nagambielakes #visithighcountryvictoria #visitvictoria #supportlocal #blog #photography
Now presenting - the wawa biik Taungurung Cultural Experiences video premiere!

wawa biik (hello Country in Taungurung language) offers immersive cultural experiences that contribute to the positive future of Taungurung culture and Country. This video provides insight from the wawa biik guides (Uncle Shane and Aunty Jo, Taungurung Elders) into the available experiences and the deep connection to Country shared by Taungurung people. 

Special thanks to Ryan from @luminairepictures and the @wawabiik team for dedication to such a moving outcome. 

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

We look forward to seeing you out on Country!

#gonagambie #euroa #tahbilk #culture #nagambielakes #visithighcountryvictoria #visitvictoria #taungurungcountry #tourismaustralia
“Our wawa biik experiences are built on dhumbak gadhaba (yarning together). We create a safe space for everyone to share and be part of the conversation. We acknowledge that we are all coming to biik (Country) from different places, experiences, understanding and knowledge and that’s ok. Our yarns are about sharing our culture, story and experience but this can only happen when we are there respecting each other, listening to each other, and to biik, our Country, so that we can walk together” - Aunty Jo 

 #culturaltours #tourism #travel #Victoria #explore #SeeAustralia #culturalexperience #culture #history #Taungurung #taungurungcountry #gonagambie
Debbie’s melt in your mouth lemon myrtle cookies have become a much-loved staple of our wawa Euroa experience.  Debbie Redding of Debbie’s Delights has been baking delicious food for over 37 years but more recently has enjoyed learning and experimenting with Indigenous ingredients, including our delicious wawa biik morning teas. As a small business owner living and working on Taungurung Country, taking part in the wawa biik partnership program has given Deb the opportunity to connect with Taungurung Elders and deepen her connection to the land. Deb’s philosophy is all about sharing good food, laughter and quality time on Country with family and friends – we are delighted to have Deb as part of our extended team. Check out our yarn with Deb, link in bio! 

#gonagambie #tahbilk #kooriepride #culture #taungurungcountry #nagambielakes #visithighcountryvictoria #visitvictoria #supportlocal #euroa
Great day on Country today! Thank you to this beautiful group for coming along on our wawa Nagambie Experience. 

#gonagambie #tahbilk #kooriepride #culture #taungurungcountry #nagambielakes #visithighcountryvictoria #visitvictoria #supportlocal