Before I begin…

I write, work, and live on stolen country.

This place was for millennia the home of the Wurundjeri willam people of the Kulin Nations, speakers of the Woi-Wurrung language, and it always will be. This country was never ceded.

I want to acknowledge that, before I start writing about Nangak Tamboree.

Reeds and water - Sports Field Lake, nangak tamboree

Nangak Tamboree (pronounced: nan-ynack tam-bor-ee) means respecting, sharing and looking after the waterway in the Woiwurrung language. The naming of Nangak Tamboree was a collaborative process with the traditional owners of the land where La Trobe University’s Bundoora campus now sits, through the Wurundjeri Woiwurrung Cultural Heritage Corporation and the University’s Indigenous Elder, Aunty Joy Murphy (University statement, 15 April, 2019).

In their own words, this is how the Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung Cultural Heritage Corporation talks about its community’s relationship with country:

For the Wurundjeri community the natural world is also a cultural world; therefore the Wurundjeri people have a special interest in preserving not just their cultural objects, but the natural landscapes of cultural importance. The acknowledgement of broader attributes of the landscape as cultural values that require protection (encompassing, among other things, a variety of landforms, ecological niches and habitats as well as continuing cultural practices and archaeological material) is essential to the identity and wellbeing of the Wurundjeri people.

Statement on Corporation’s website, 2021

The community is deeply involved in planning, naming, reimagining and regenerating the place that is called Nangak Tamboree, including conducting cultural burning as part of the regeneration process.

As I write and walk here I acknowledge this and honour the Wurundjeri people’s past and ongoing cultural connections to country, to building community, and to story. I promise not to harm this place, and to respect the incredible knowledge of Elders and experts like the Narrap Rangers involved in caring for country.

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