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Walking Together on Country

Updated: Jan 24

by Marion Kickett, Noongar Elder and John Kinsella, Australian Poet

PERTH, Western Australia - A collaborative piece of work titled "Walking Together on Country" spoken by Marion Kickett and heard by John Kinsella, who responds.

Marion Kickett is a Noongar woman from the Balardong language group. Born in the wheatbelt town of York, Marion spent her early years living on the York Reserve. After completing two bachelor’s degrees, Marion completed her PhD at The University of Western Australia on ‘Resilience’ from an Aboriginal perspective, using an Aboriginal methodology. She previously worked in the areas of Public Health and Academia for thirty years.

John Kinsella’s most recent works include the first volume of his collected poems, The Ascension of Sheep (UWAP, 2022), the short story collection Pushing Back (Transit Lounge, 2022) and Legibility: an antifascist poetics (Palgrave, 2022).

Walking Together on Country

Marion Says: Let’s walk together on country right now and look to see what there is to see. Wongborel (Mt Brown), Walwalling (Mt Bakewell) and Bilya Googalar (Avon River in York) too. Within my view is a Yongka or two (Kangaroo), a weitj (Emu) and Nyingarn (Echidna) but only a few. Ballay (lookout), something running fast, too fast for me to see. Ah it’s a Karda (Lizard) a Karda running way over there.

Look, look again is that a numbat messin around?

He chasin ants, ants, everywhere he’s sucking them up he don’t care. It’s been raining and raining what do you smell? The dampness of boodja (land) and the eucalyptus trees, the aroma of Bilya Googalar (river) running fast further over there.

These words are spoken by Marion Kickett and heard by John Kinsella, who responds Nih Nih (Listen, listen) what’s that you hear? It’s Wardong (crow) and Kulbardi (magpie) talking somewhere over there as they sit watching Djidi Djidi (Willy Wagtail) play just there.

So, come with me and let’s walk on country the way my ancestors did.

Let’s listen and see what we can see and learn as we walk on country.

John Responds: I walk on your country, Marion, and say thanks. I see the river and the mountain, and the hill and I hear their names. I walk on your country, Marion, and am grateful. I hear the Yongka through the undergrowth and hear Nyingarn shuffling to its fallen tree-trunk hollow.

But I am sad I can’t see the numbats as you know them, Marion, because they’ve been driven away. I walk on your country, Marion, and listen to your words.

I too hear the Djidi Djidi having its say, playing with the times of day.