My first trip out to Nowanup Farm was unexpected. I had been selected last minute as a facilitator to teach about nutrition. I sat up late preparing for my workshop only to find that all late nights of preparation were to be thrown out the window at the hands of the complete surrender that came when the four wheels of my car left the smog of the city and the beautiful bushland of the South West swallowed me up whole.
Nowanup Farm is an hour and half drive on a red dirt road through the picturesque Stirling Ranges. As I drove closer to this magical place I felt the layers of life peel from me like silk and I arrived feeling raw, ready, and open to nature. My first visit I was welcomed with open arms, a smiling face and simple “g’day” from Aboriginal Elder Eugene Eades (the owner and caretaker of the mass of land that is known as Nowanup Farm).
He took us to a beautiful area on the farm that he had built from scrap, found at the tip – it is known as ‘The Meeting Place’ and he ceremonially welcomed us to his country and told us the story of how he came to be here. This land was originally farm land. It came under the care of Uncle Eugene and over a number of years he regenerated the plant growth, located numerous sacred sights, found dozens of ancient Aboriginal artefacts and walked the land as his ancestors had done for thousands of years healing as he went. The man is a saint! Eugene believes in the power of our mother or, as he calls it, ‘Boodja’, having the capability to heal all.
On my first day on this blessed Nyoongar Boodja (Nyoongar land) we shared breakfast as a group. Everyone was friendly and excited to be included in the camp. No one knew what to expect but we all anticipated the guidance that would no doubt come from one of the four Aboriginal Elders that were sitting drinking tea with us that morning… and then as gently as a breeze in the top of a eucalyptus an Elder stood, beckoned us outside into the sunshine and the healing ceremony began…
The women were sent to sit around a sacred fire and the men departed to have their own ceremony and to prepare for the women to amalgamate later in the day. The women sat, and our gracious female Elder spoke. She told us that the ‘Old People’ were our caretakers and also looked after the the land and that, by speaking into the sacred fire, our worries, prayers, manifestations and stories would be taken in the smoke to the Old People. We shared the depths of our souls that day – laughs, tears, triumphs, worries and absolute heartbreak. 12 women that had never known each other before that morning’s breakfast became sisters before the breath of the sacred fire and the loving guidance of our female Elder. There was purity in love despite our different racial backgrounds and ways of life. We found common ground on Nyoongar Boodja and family within each other and truth within the old ways. I felt the nostalgia of what it may have been like thousands of years ago for the women of these tribes to sit, in sacred space, sharing their hearts as we were.
We then trekked out through the bush to be welcomed by the men where they had held their sacred ceremony. They had prepared a fire for us. We collected twigs from trees nearby and channelled our prayers and worries into them, and they were then placed lovingly around the meeting place for the Boodja to heal. The women joined hands in a small circle around the fire and the men joined hands in a circle of support around us. The male Elder spoke, “These are our women; we protect them with love, respect and openness.”
They spoke beauty with ancient Nyoongar language, bidding the bad spirits (the Warra) to leave us and the Old People to protect us, our men, our protectors, our support and our balance… and as a group we healed as the Balga resin and gum leaves smoked on the fire. The smell was intoxicating and the feeling was indescribable. As a single mother who was raised by a single mother the warrior spirit of WOMAN is something I have always held close. It has served me well in an age where women bear so much and guard so much after hundreds of years of oppression – but on this day, under the care of sacred Nyoongar ritual, I found safety in vulnerability around men. The feeling can only be described as absolute, untainted and purest unconditional LOVE… coming from the blessed earth and all being fed with the ancient vibration of Nyoongar song. I felt through to my core exactly how it is meant to be between women and men, both with purpose, both with love and respect and perfect trust… within me was found a sacred union.
I changed that day… we all changed that day… and after the camp we went our separate ways. Some stayed in contact, others went home to other countries, but I returned to help Uncle Eugene with his mission to spread the love he showed me.
There are troubled youth, prison releasees, forgotten ones, displaced hearts and lost people from all walks of life. The beauty of Eugene is that he doesn’t care where you’re from; he knows his sacred Nyoongar Boodja has the power to heal all and that through Nyoongar culture and country we will find ways to reconnect with each other and the earth. He is so open about his culture and willing to share his knowledge with such heart. Everyone fondly calls him Uncle Eugene and he will affectionately find a nickname suitable for you within a few hours. Mine is ‘Bub’.
There is no timetable to his teachings. You just sit and drink tea and talk about life. He will pluck away on his guitar singing old country music songs and smiling. Then he will stare off into space with his earthy brown eyes and as the energy of Boodja arises in his soul he stands and walks… and you follow. He will take you and share with you the vastness of this land. You will see views that are priceless, nature at its finest and by your side is a man with a story behind anything and everything to do with his ancient culture and country.
Nowanup is in need of funding and support from anywhere and everywhere. This camp runs solely from small donations and grants, and a lot of the time from Uncle Eugene’s own income. One of the Elders from camp said that he once saw Uncle Eugene queuing at the Salvation Army for food because he had spent all his money supplying others attending his camp. A man who will give to others before himself – in a world where most of us are in it for ourselves – is nothing less than inspiring, and I choose to be part of this loving journey to see that he need not suffer to share his magic with all. Within Nyoongar culture and the magic of Nyoongar Boodja I found unity, I searched the depths of my soul and found peace, and I now share Uncle Eugene’s faith in our great mother being the healer to bring us all together in the end, in perfect love and perfect trust. We are all one.
I am a white Australian, I am 30 and a single mum with a beautiful 6 year old daughter who is my perfect rainbow! My father has worked very closely with Aboriginal people since I was very young, and upon his returns to the city when I was a child he would fill my senses with Aboriginal culture, stories, survival techniques and music as if it were my own. I learnt that it doesn’t matter where you are from, the tribal culture of the land you live on is one to be respected and learned, as the energy of the land will seep through your veins … and this I hope to share with others. I found belonging in taking Aboriginal culture on as my own culture and in turn have grown to work with Aboriginal People. I volunteer at Nowanup Farm which is a healing camp run by elder Eugene Eades and I also perform with a troupe of children’s entertainers named the Eco Faeries as their resident ‘Tribal Earth Faerie’ teaching respect for the earth and, my favourite, respect for indigenous cultures.
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