mapali

Last month, the tenth biennial Ten Days on the Island festival inhabited Tasmania once again. Previously, the program has run throughout the state over the course of ten days. This year, it was split over three weekends, firstly in the northwest, then the northeast and concluding in the south. We  couldn’t resist the opportunity to experience the opening of the festival on the beach at Devonport at sunrise. mapali was a celebration at first light, narrated by David mangenner Gough, featuring over a hundred performers from the indigenous community, Slipstream Circus acrobats, Taiko Drummers, school students and a community choir. We didn’t anticipate the crowd and lack of parking, the fires were alight by the time we reached the beach.

1.mapali

David’s voice was clear as he led a Welcome to Country ceremony, acknowledging the significant history of the northwest coastline and local aboriginal communities with the sweeping and smoking of the beach.

3.fires

The kelp gatherers made their way eerily from the shore in the firelight.

2.kelp harvesters

With the rhythmic beat of Taiko drums resounding in the still morning air,

4.Taiko drums

our attention turned to a solitary dark figure suspended in a hoop above the sand.

The drumming ceased while a chorus of ethereal voices harmonised from the balcony.

8.choir

Our senses feasted as a fusion of drums and chorus accompanied the visual spectacle evolving against the peppery hue of nature’s backdrop.

7.Taiko drums & choir9.acrobat

We were next summoned to the village, a representation of a traditional village of the punnilerpanner people who have lived in this area since the beginning of time.

18.the village

On this, International Women’s Day, David spoke in honour of the women who hunted off the coast for shellfish

19.David mangenner Gough

and gathered kelp to clad the huts.

20.kelp hut

He also paid respect to ongoing traditions that the women are passing on to the young, in particular, shell stringing. For thousands of years, Aboriginal women have been collecting maireener shells to make necklaces and bracelets. The shells can only be collected at certain times of the year and each necklace has a unique combination and pattern. Local schoolchildren had made huge effigies of the shells in readiness for this moment.

21.maireener shells

David instructed those positioned around the edge of the village to hold up the rope, a symbol of the twine that binds us together as people, and string on the maireener shells to represent a giant necklace.

22.maireener shells

He then commanded the lighting of patrula, meaning fire in palawa kani, the language of Tasmanian Aborigines.

With the sunrise ceremony concluded,

the crowd dispersed, the beach resumed its peaceful sublimity

27.Bluff Beach

and we went in search of breakfast.

 

Mersey Bluff

The waters of the Mersey River travel 147km from Lake Meston in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park to escape into Bass Strait at Mersey Bluff on the northwest coast of Tasmania.

1.Mersey Bluff

The dolerite headland was formed 185 million years ago in the Jurassic Age. As the rock cooled, joints and fractures were created along with some very flat surfaces, providing places where the Aborigines would sit and carve.

2.Mersey Bluff

Tiagarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place has been closed for quite some time due to lack of funding. The building houses the history, art and culture of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people and there are several rock carvings and middens along the bluff walk.

3.Tiagarra

The lighthouse was completed in 1889 and was automated in 1920. The addition of four vertical red stripes in 1929 make it quite distinctive.

We followed the footpath around the bluff with spectacular views of the coastline to the east.

6.Mersey Bluff

There are many rock formations along the way, it’s not difficult to see why this one is called ‘the hat’.

7.The Hat

The lighthouse receded behind us

8.lighthouse

as we rounded the point, the sun highlighting the colours in the rocks.

9.rocks

I could sit for hours and watch the incoming tide sneak its way into each crevice, retreating angrily in defeat.

10.Mersey Bluff

11.Mersey Bluff

Diamonds sparkled on the water as far as the horizon.

14.Mersey Bluff

We passed a craggy memorial to a brave young man who lost his life while trying to save another.

17.Mersey Bluff

The path continues to Mersey Bluff Reserve but we took the short cut back instead, through the picnic ground with serene water views.

19.Mersey Bluff20.Mersey Bluff