On Monday and Tuesday of last week…

…Indigenous writers, actors, playwrights, film and documentary makers and musicians from across Australia, dropped into a little place called Fremantle (Western Australia) to put their collective heads together, and shared their yarning abilities with us wannabes.

This event was called the National Indigenous Storytellers Forum – the first of it’s kind – and was perhaps one of the most humbling gatherings of like minded peoples, I’ve ever had the pleasure to attend. Brought to us by the Department of the Culture and the Arts, we descended upon the FTI mob in Freo, keen to hear what other Indigenous people were thinking about this business we call Yarning.

Storytelling done well is like an oceans wave; it carries an enormous amount of weight behind it, gathering up everything in it’s path and delivering it to whatever shore it might crash upon with such an innate sense of purpose – you can’t help but feel that story was meant especially for you. A good yarn is like that. It’s rooted well in a peoples ‘Past’, it has a keen eye for their ‘Future’, and it draws nicely upon their ‘Today’.

A good yarn should fit you like an old coat, and the person spinning that yarn must be able to measure you up for an exact fit, the moment his or her mouth opens and they start sharing. It’s being given to you see – and the person yarning with you wants you to keep it – not throw it away. Yarns are a living thing; we breathe life into them, make them our own, help them to grow, and we seek to do only one thing well in our life with them, and that is – pass them onto you.

A good yarn has no straight lines taking you from ‘A’ to ‘B’. It might even start you somewhere over at ‘H’, only to pass by ‘C’, as you wander on over to ‘K’, just to find out what ‘R’ is doing. If you’re in the presence of a gifted yarn teller – you won’t even know this is happening, and you’ll be content to go for the ride, knowing eventually it’ll take you somewhere, and that you’ll come out the other end – carrying away a little ‘something’ extra trapped up in your ‘brainbox’, and you’ll be smiling about it.

I met many people at this Forum who use many different mediums for telling their yarns. There were people who spoke, people who wrote, people who sang songs, people who acted, people who filmed, people who directed such films, and the people who produced them. To me, they represented people who thought, people who felt, people who survived, and people who had suffered – people who celebrated their lives – and had earned the right to do so. It was a remarkably humble group of people who shared their yarns and experiences – and unwittingly – their emotions.

In the week following a national apology across this country for decisions made against an Indigenous Peoples based on the colour of their skin, a relatively large group of talented Indigenous professionals gathered and offered hope and solace to a group of Indigenous wannabes­ – like me. They told us how they felt, offered up those things that worked for them, and showed us that if we wanted to aim for the top – we could. It seemed a fitting addition to the feel of a nation, still trying on it’s new hat – “Sorry” – and looking a little uncomfortable with it.

Those of you I briefly met, listened to, watched, and felt; I’d like to give you all space here in my ‘little world’ on the internet, to show you how the forum reached out and touched me. You’ve re-ignited my inspiration and more importantly – my passion, and I have to tell you – it was sure struggling! You’ve helped me get back on the path of yarning as I see it. I feel incredibly lucky to have met you all and heard a little of the yarns you bring to the world. I hope what I can do now is live up to it. As the responsibility of it all frightens the absolute buggery out of me.

So cheers Uncle Neville, Aunty Janet, Trevor, Fred, Gary, Uncle Baamba, Aunty Dot, Gina, Anita, Uncle Alf, Kim, David, Dalisa, Lorrae, Sylvester and all those of you I couldn’t possibly list – there was simply too many of you. You all touched and inspired a group of people – probably well beyond your imagining! When you put yourself out for public display, you always give away more of yourself then you ever intend to do. When you do this to share a yarn – you give away much more than usual – simply because the yarn is you! I believe this take an incredible amount of strength and character, and I’m glad to have heard a little of this – from all of you.

Thanks also goes to Gina, Roz and Michelle (and anyone else I’m missing here) for making it possible. It was a great event, and thankfully – my hope continues to grow.

Belongum – Out!

About Belongum

People bring 'things' to me. Not necessarily PHYSICAL things as such - mostly just the loose bits and pieces floating around in their 'brain-box'. Sometimes, they also bring themselves - and THAT isn't anywhere near as simple as it sounds. I come here to pass some of this 'brain-box business' on to the ether world, and to empty my head. Besides folks - I love a good yarn - so come and join me!
This entry was posted in 1905 Act, 1967 Referendum, Aboriginal, adults, adversity, Australia, Australiana, black, Blackfellas, Broome, culture, Family, fate, Fremantle, funny, girls, good, good samaritan, hard, home, hurt, Indigenous, Islander, Isolation, Leaving Home, life, lonely, Love, Lucky, Mates, Mateship, people, Perth, racism, saving a life, Sorry, tale, Thank you, Torres Strait Islander, tourists, true story, uncle, Western Australia, Western Australian, white, Whitefellas, whole, Women, work, yarn and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to On Monday and Tuesday of last week…

  1. Talula says:

    Hi Belongum; thanks for the shout – I just saw this post last night and decided to link so I could read more about your world. Will definitely be back to read more.

    As to your remark about all my posts seem to to be for learners; that is true and I would hope that learning new things about the diverse cultures in the world would really be a subject to interest children, families and teachers ( My target audience.)

    In case you didn’t get very far on my posts list or pages — i will just tell you right out — I am a 6th generation Texan of Irish and Cherokee (Native American) descent. Which means I look Irish and think Cherokee; so maybe I can feel a bit of your issues slightly. I spent 25 years as an Early Childhood Educator, now work from home selling children’s books online. My nickname ‘Talula’ was given to me by my grandparents as a baby — but my given name is ‘Roxie’ which was my Irish great grandmother’s Gaelic name. P.S. I look forward to having some great conversations on our blogs.


  2. mez says:

    All the old cultures have their stories. They are such an important way to create community and history. Great post!


  3. belongum says:

    Interesting Talula… I look forward to yarning with you more mate – It’s always been my ‘want’ to yarn with other fellas who id with their own peoples in places like the US – so I’ll drop by more often. My background is primarily Youth Work and Community Services, but I spent a number of years working this in the realm of Education here in Western Australian schools.

    This included (but was not exclusive to) behavioral issues, and how these overflowed into the schools… was an interesting (still is really) job – as you had to address all the factors surrounding the individual first… and as we all probably know – sometimes – this just isn’t always possible.

    “…hence this Blog!” lol So put your feet up – and welcome.

    Mez – mate, I couldn’t agree more… I think though – from my own experiences – Aussies make such great Yarners in general too! Stories are such powerful things. It’s a joy to be in the presence of such things. Cheers!


  4. Sounds like an interesting couple of days.

    I got a little giggle out of this – a great storyteller telling how to be a great storyteller. It’s good to see that you take your own advice 🙂


  5. Gina says:

    Shucks….let’s just say the room had absolutely no “wannabes” over those two days.

    Looking forward to seeing what comes from the event – expecting good things from you kind sir!




  6. belongum says:

    Geez NPB… that’s nice of ya mate! 😉 Ta very much! I hope it’s something I can continue to do well – without losing my way in the process. I think that’d be my biggest fear – getting lost in all this and missing the point entirely!

    Hey Gina… thanks for dropping by, I want to know when I can get hold of some of your music lol – I’m going to have to give you a bell to find out! It was a great couple of days and it took me a long time to come back down to earth – you mob gave me WAY too much to think about!



  7. Nice post Belongum. i’m looking forward to many more yarns.


  8. belongum says:

    I’m hoping I don’t run out of ’em DM… lol. Or – get caught up in them… there’s so bloody many out there… 😉


  9. hmmn yes, know that feeling well. kissing those babies is a good diversion from the nastiness of the real world. stay well


  10. Talula says:

    Aaah, Belongum! There is no better trait to a man of stories than he be of Irish lineage; unless he be also of Aussie aboriginal ‘Yarning’ lineage! Hail to ye!

    (or Cherokee [Native American] in my case! we are trying to publish as many of the old tribal legends as fast as possible and working to preserve the old languages by teaching immersion language classes in the pre-schools in my tribal capital of Tallequah, Oklahoma, USA.

    Lift a pint to the storytellers of the world be they of ANY culture of old!


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