Sacred Rocks, Sites and the Concrete Airport in Between
By Steven & Evan Strong
Special Thanks to: The Ramindjeri, those who attended and many others
My solo trip down to Adelaide airport then on to a Culture Gathering (Mum:Mo:Wee) at Karta (Kangaroo Island) was supposed to compliment two agendas, but that could only come about after negotiating some pressing reasons to not attend. From a financial viewpoint there was nothing to gain. Once adding up the flights, ferry and cost of food reluctantly consumed at airport restaurants/conveyor belts, getting to and back from Ballina/Byron Airport, then paying for excess baggage for thirty kilograms of sacred rocks secured and wrapped inside one heroic bag once again holding together while on another excursion into the unknown, the numbers were in and this venture is a failure on every balance sheet.
Then in what only adds to the tally of sensible reasons not to come, the gathering has been convened at the same location from which the Ramindjeri were recently formally served papers and evicted. That legal document bore the imprint and authority of the legally constituted body of South Australia, the Indigenous Lands Council, and meant that according to every possible interpretation this culture gathering was not sanctioned and for all intents and legal purposes, illegal. This Mum:Mo:Wee was well known and subject to a great deal of planning. Some of those opposed had made it clear they were in disagreement with the four days set aside to reclaim the complex by the Original people who still have the right to act as custodians on this holy Original site.
With my costing nudging four figures and with the real chance this activity could be challenged by police, the reality was that together this meant very little, as all of those negatives were always less than minor distractions. My greatest and most immediate fear was simply getting lost. My appalling absence of any awareness of the correct bush track/passage/route/street is consistently disappointing and an eternally lost cause. The mere idea of traveling down unfamiliar roads relying on my abysmal skills in navigation and electronics in a hire car while in solo-search mode, was a recurring source of real dread.
All up, when weighing up the absence of pros and abundance of cons, staying put was the only sensible option, except for the fact I had no choice and had to get on that island as soon as possible. Of all the uncertainties, the terrible weather and treacherous seas had been so bad of recent days the captain had declared on many occasions that the sea was too dangerous to cross and return safely. If need be I may have to wait and reschedule my flights back home, because those sacred rocks had to get on the earth at that island. If they didn’t I could be sure of one thing, they would not be happy and I would suffer their consequences.
A Phone call to Emilia
Evan had been urging me to contact Emilia by phone for days, and I had made two unsuccessful attempts, but with four days before flying out Evan felt some direct prompting was needed and took the initiative by ringing Emilia on his mobile, then handed me his machine and her voice. Emilia’s role was simple, to make sure I didn’t get lost and turn up at these unknown destinations on time. Knowing I was no longer responsible for trying to navigate through unknown land and waters meant if the sea was calm the sacred rocks could begin a healing process on Karta that could change everything, everywhere.
I was now able to give my full attention to the two reasons that made going to this island as quickly as was possible, compulsory. So interconnected is the rightful occupation of the Ramindjeri Culture Centre to the proper storage, display and rituals given to the sacred marked rocks, it all merges together into an all or nothing outcome.
Many of the sacred marked rocks, identified by Uncle Marbuck as being part of the “star rocks collection,” were collected between 1926 through to 1938 by a couple who lived on an outstation in South Australia. They accompanied a variety of academics on country and obviously focused on the artefacts and marked rocks that came their way. This state was their home-base and with many rocks are no longer sourced, setting up a display of over 150 rocks somewhere within the boundary lines of South Australia seems the most sensible choice. Knowing that Kangaroo Island is Ramindjeri tribal land, and that Karta means Gateway to the Heavens from which not only the souls of any who died there, but those throughout the mainland, set off on their journey to Heaven/Judgement from this island, such a blessed keeping-place is entirely in keeping with the importance of these holy rocks.
At a personal level it was the Ramindjeri who gave me ceremony and the Karta Custodian/Ramindjeri Warrior Karno W. who was my guide and teacher. For these reasons, and many more not discussed, this island and Culture Centre has become the anointed location where the rocks will establish themselves with the earth, then begin again.
With Old Way intentions to be taken into consideration and Ramindjeri protocol strictly observed, this plan seemed assured of success. So it seemed, but red tape and the trials and tribulations of paperwork with an agenda led to a legal document being served on the Culture Centre demanding that Christine, Karno’s wife, and all Ramindjeri associated with Karno’s legacy, cease, desist and decamp from the entire island. The State Government authority on all Original matters (Indigenous Lands Council), had determined that although the Walker family unit is agreed by all anthropologists to be the closest in lineage to the ancient patrilineal Ramindjeri tribal ancestry, their rights and tenure was taken without warning and their presence on their sacred island is no longer required. The instructions were simple, pack your bags, tidy up, hop on the next ferry to the mainland and say good bye, and this cultural whitewash was all done from a distance separated by keyboard and official documents. No face to face contact was initiated through any endorsed channel during the eviction process, the white-fella paperwork was ticked off and another black-fella historical truth fell under the bus.
With the Ramindjeri banished from the island and Cultural Centre, the sacred rocks have lost their home-base and rightful custodians. Not only has their venerable role in the past affairs of Original women and men been stolen yet again, so too will the contributions these holy rocks should be making in future days be thwarted. Without the correct forum and sacred location, no rock ceremony can be given and nor will the portal on Karta be nurtured and amplified. My hope was that common-sense would prevail and the Culture Centre and sacred rocks would remain under the correct stewardship, but knowing defenders of the Old Ways are fighting against the same tactics throughout the country, my optimism was not based on either past or present official practice.
The Law and the Parliaments have spoken as one, the Ramindjeri are now official pariahs on their tribal estate. Conversely, Original Lore and the Guardian Spirits demand that the Keepers of the Old Ways stand united in reclaiming their heritage with the Culture Centre as their base. The four days on country achieved that end, as strategies were devised and plans made to ensure this land remains under the control of the right Elders and people. What has become obvious is the need to become financially independent, now that those in control have been challenged there are no grants or funds available for any who refuse to play the game. By refusing to be evicted and standing firmly by Original principles, some lateral thinking is required and alternative sources of finance need to be considered.
Those “Rocks That Talk.”
So claimed the past President of the Australian Archaeological Society, Frederic Slater was adamant that some of these sacred marked rocks can actually “talk,” and moreover, this radical observation is something of which we are in full agreement. These same rocks speak of incredibly ancient yet sophisticated technology, in earlier times of highly advanced civilisations and the involvement of Sky-Heroes in our daily and genetic affairs. The topics addressed are diverse and will hopefully be on display for all to see and marvel over. These rocks, along with videos, notes, displays and supporting material will form something unique and the price of admission for those seeking the truth in a genuine Original setting, will become part of the financial independence needed as the Ramindjeri chart their own destiny.
The decision to display these sacred rocks at the Culture Centre was relatively easy, it ticked every box. Through setting a reasonable price for entry and presenting an impressive showcase of some features of these rocks, financial independence becomes a high priority and an achievable target. As a high percentage of these rocks were bought through auction or bidding, and many more are still on the market, the idea of using a small portion of the takings from the gate to secure more important stone artefacts that must never leave this continent, is another worthy goal.
What had been occurring when Karno was working with Original teenagers having issues coping with injustices and economic pain, was that time on the island living under protocol and Lore was life-changing and that continuing in this pursuit and giving the young pride in Culture and Law is an elemental goal and long-term plan. For that to develop we do need more plumbing and septic and a bit more structure in the camping area, this also assists in catering for future Culture Gatherings and any wishing to see these ancient testimonials.
What cannot be contested is that many of the people who have been close to these rocks, but never touching, have formed a relationship with these inanimate objects or been subject to reactions that are profoundly spiritual. We can add that the interactions we have experienced leaves us in no doubt that some of these rocks are not only historical relics of Original humans from the past, but ‘have never left the room.’ Not only do some rocks have a quality that I can only equate to something akin to a personality, they are stirring and accelerating forward. Towards where is a mystery to us, but what is patently clear is that their powers are growing by the day. Where that leads is a mixed blessing as their energy is already immense when in the presence of humans. Knowing that many of these rocks are a reservoir of the good, bad and indifferent that makes up the cosmic consciousness of humanity, and that on occasions, rocks assumed to be wholesome can turn belligerent, there are many questions ahead. They can be wonderful allies, but unforgiving enemies and what is more than a touch troubling, is that they behave just like us.
Undeniably, placing these rocks on the ground at a sacred site is a far more sympathetic course of action and a good reason of itself to set up a permanent historical display that is so in keeping with Original sensibilities, but there is another purpose these rocks serve. When in ceremonial guise the rocks form a figure eight, with the two circles connected by the ‘rocket cylcon’ and Ros’ Rocks 1 and 2, and beside the knowledge circle and spiritual/magic circle are three rocks that embody what many refer to as evil. In combination these three realms represent the entire human experience, and at the appropriate times the rocks do need to be reconnected in ceremony. People will be invited to sit between the circles and allow the rocks to examine, analyse and download those willing to be cross-examined by their silicon betters.
Equally, if the three shapes are correctly balanced and in synchronicity with the vibration of the earth, perhaps the resonance of the planet will lift. Either way, these rocks have a public face and a ceremonial interface, but this is contingent on the Culture Centre functioning and being staffed by non-Original, Original and Ramindjeri people committed to the Old Ways. If the centre is closed, the rocks will go back to their hiding place and nothing changes outside more of the same.
What is also happening is that people who are holding some of these sacred rocks have heard of our intention to set up this open-air presentation and have expressed a strong desire to participate and donate. We fully expect that as people hear and see how this exhibition on earth is so respectful to Original protocol, some we know of and others unknown will also wish to contribute in creating a display that is as unique as it is unfinished.
There is one rock that readily comes to mind which I had the pleasure of viewing while waiting at the Adelaide Airport for Emilia that could become part of the collection, or equally, may not. That is a matter between the rock and its immediate keeper to negotiate and has nothing to do with anyone else.
A Private Viewing at the Airport
We had been in contact with Billie-Jean well before I knew of the Culture Gathering and after some rather complicated negotiations I was told by Emilia that Billie-Jean and some members of her family were driving three hours to meet with me at the Airport.
She had the rock with her and the photographs fell well short, it was a magnificent piece of work on so many levels. The very first feature I wanted to confirm was whether this rock was part of the star rocks collection. As an essential prerequisite, it must have a thin layer of resin and chert with a different base rock of a contrasting colour. That is a definite, the fine thin coat of resin is present and just beneath the surface the redder grain of a different rock.
If there were any doubts as to this rock’s classification, once examining the way each line was cut into the surface without variation in depth or constancy of pressure, which is very much the preferred style, they were gone within seconds of viewing. As with most of the star rocks, the technology required to create the markings on this rock is as advanced as it is sophisticated, and well outside the reach of any stone, bone and stick tool-kit. The narrative I read on both sides was in accord with that of Billie-Jean’s uncle, the details are for then not now, but I can reveal one of the two passages was sourced from the stars.
What struck me once again was not only how clearly Billie-Jean was meant to be the custodian of this special rock, but how every rock so far brought to our attention was found, discovered or reclaimed by a woman. It is a gender void commented on before and we suspect will be again, but once again it is clear to us that the Spirits guided these women, and in this case Billie-Jean, to their respective rocks. However, of all the rocks found this one is the most sacred and powerful and needs special consideration.
Most of my advice is meant to stay with the people in direct contact with this power rock, and will remain in confidence, but I did want to stress two truths. The rock’s path is solely a matter between the rock and Billie-Jean, they will decide together how this rock can complete its task. Alas, with that obligation there is a burden to bear, like all the members of this ensemble that rock is also stirring and as we have found out on too many occasions to count, those who are imprinted and coded into these rocks can inadvertently offend and will suffer the consequences. It was my hope that a basic list of what may upset our silicon compatriots could assist Billie-Jean.
I was aware that discussions had taken place between some of the Ramindjeri and Billie-Jean with the suggestion that this rock join the collection, but I wanted to keep away from that talk. My concern was that the rock was very strong and Billie-Jean needed to take measures to create some balance. That was my only priority on our first meeting. Billie-Jean will always be the keeper of the rock and if the rock wants to move location or stay where it is, it will make its intentions clear. Until, or if, that day comes this stunning artefact/power rock is under the custodianship of the very best person available.
Of course, if the eviction of the Ramindjeri remains legal, then Billie-Jean has no decision to make nor has an alternative destination to consider. Just like the rocks we are minding, if the Culture Centre closes then they will remain in transit and stay with Billie-Jean, ourselves, and many other potential donors.
Why was This Sacred Land Stolen?
What is as predictable as it is sinister, are the protagonists in this dispute, both sides are Original. It is the same tragedy being played out all over the country, the British are the consummate masters in seeding unrest through their strategy of divide and conquer. In the four cases we are aware those defending Original Lore and sacred sites have been deemed to be the guilty party, and in each case they have been brought to court by a Government funded Aboriginal organisation. That one degree of separation allows the puppet-strings complete control, yet maintains immunity.
What this has created is a constant division between those in Lands Councils who are perceived to benefit and the families whose words and recommendations are not acted upon. There are occasions where the chances of gaining employment with some local Original jobs is directly related to the kin in control, and regrettably times when members of Lands Councils sign off on a development when tempted by large sums of ready cash. There is a widening chasm in Original communities between those who believe in sovereign rights and maintaining a strong connection to the Old Ways and others who want to move on from the past and work within the system. With all arms of the official regime funding any Original person or organisation that agrees to join up or sell out, there is a deepening division within Original communities and a parting of the ways throughout the land.
The South Australian Indigenous Lands Council is merely doing what the other Original Lands Council were always designed to do, divide and conquer. The best part of this circular equation is that if the Ramindjeri, Githubal or other Original keepers of the Old Ways do make an official complaint, they are inevitably referred to the same party that supposedly protects culture and attacks them. It really is a matter of pick and choose, recently there was talk in parliament about officially recognising Original occupation in the constitution with many Original ‘experts’ who were interviewed explaining why signing away all sovereign rights is what the Original community want. Time after time on the approved mainstream outlets we have been subjected to a barrage of pleas from Original people to be formally part of a legal document that is inherently flawed, as the land was stolen and no treaty was signed. Not once anywhere did any Original voice object, yet everywhere we went we never heard one voice advocating the worst option, they wanted sovereignty and nothing less would suffice.
This radical feedback may well be under mainstream’s radar, but it seems quite clear that if any Original group wants to reconnect with their heritage, sacred ways and seek independence they shall not be heard, seen or given any public recognition. Whether it is one tribe demanding what is rightfully theirs be returned or the Original nation being legally acknowledged as the proper owners/custodians of this land that was stolen from them, such disturbing talk must never reach any public arena.
Wirritjin in Action
From our perspective the reason the Ramindjeri Culture Centre has been targeted since Karno passed on, is a combination of cowardice and fear. That no approach was made to close down the Centre while Karno was alive, not even a hint of concern expressed, is simply because they knew Karno’s position was unchallengeable, but once he moved across they played the race and gender card.
Karno’s wife Christine is non-Original, of course this is an irrelevant observation when a tribe is fully committed to the principles of Wirritjin (Black-fella White-fella Dreaming), because as Karno said so often, “Spirit knows no colour.” If Christine had been Original I sincerely doubt she would have been evicted, but what is galling is that such a distinction in colour was never part of the Ramindjeri package. From the very first time I met, the Ramindjeri treated Christine as they treated Karno, as Elders, and they still do. What only adds to the eclectic mix is that Karno passed the cultural baton on to a Ramindjeri woman, Unbulara. That means at the head of the Ramindjeri structure we have a black and white woman, this is a perfect blend where sexism and racism just cannot exist. There are Original and non-Original people who have been given full ceremony within this ever-expanding tribal group and this natural extension sits uncomfortably with some who pull the strings.
What compounds the affront is that the buildings are there, the infrastructure is all but complete and the people on the land are willing to share and talk about how important their Culture and Law still is and will be in the days yet to come. They too sense a change in the air and ether and know the rocks have a significant part to orchestrate in the immediate future. Past the rocks, beyond the holy land they sit upon is something even more profound, the people who stand by the Ramindjeri come from all races and stand united and that assembly is the real treasure in this struggle. Colour means nothing here, this is Australia’s future and how it was always meant to be, there are Christians, Agnostics, Pagans, followers of the Dreaming and all shades in between and it counts for nothing. The land is sacred, the Culture Centre is blessed and the sacred rocks are destined to take up their peace on earth, and the people who stood beside this task gained no financial reward.
I have absolutely no doubt that this is how Karno envisaged Wirritjin would operate, and it continues without his body to limit his actions. The Ramindjeri are now walking outside every financial life-line, they are nine-tenths ready to go and for less than six figures will have the finances to complete the plumbing and septic for an amenities block and build an appropriate display for the rocks to reconnect with the earth below and sky above.
We are at present negotiating with one Museum and the first communications look promising, but it was always our intention to make this a joint-project in every conceivable way. To that end for any that may wish to invest in such a noble and respectful venture that affords a real sense of self-determination to the Ramindjeri, a contribution of any form be it financial, labour or technical would be gratefully accepted. Make no mistake this is not a charitable donation, but an investment in assisting in the re-establishment of Original Lore, Culture and Spiritual imperatives into the land and people. The display we intend to create is not just an historical relic, but an interactive and personal meeting of flesh and silicon. These rocks contain within humanity’s history, genesis and purpose and once sitting on holy ground will be more than willing to share and bond with sympathetic souls.
On a Positive Note
In a perfect world no paper would have been served, the rocks would already be on the island and people from all over the world would have seen the display. More rocks would have been purchased and ceremonies would have been enacted, everything could be fine and there should be plenty of work at the Culture Centre for the young. Many other sacred marked rocks from all over the continent could be joining their colleagues, and throughout this renaissance the Ramindjeri will be free and independent on their tribal estate.
In the less than perfect world of today, we are witnesses to a web of intrigue where there is no justice and the wrong people run the show. Despite the many obstacles the Culture Centre has been reclaimed, the rocks are ready and willing to resettle and there is a huge change in circumstances ahead. What happens next is a mystery, all we can do is what we believe to be right, accept what comes to pass knowing that the rocks can actually ‘talk’ and that they will be heard and understood.
There is a proverbial fork in the road rapidly approaching, choose wisely.