We acknowledge the Bundjalung people who are the traditional custodians of this Land. We also pay respect to the Elders, past and present, of the Bundjalung nation.
For all visitors to Djanbung Gardens, the platypus is a conspicuous element in the art here, from small sculptures and garden mosaics to the impressive murals by local Aboriginal artists, Gilbert Laurie and Burri Jerome.
‘Djanbung’ is one of the Bundjalung names for the platypus. The name was given to this permaculture education centre by Uncle Eric Walker, Bundjalung Elder and lore-keeper, in 1994 via Burri Jerome, together with a story of the platypus, also called Mara-maroo.
I entered into ‘ownership’ (under white Australian law) of this property in a spirit of temporary custodianship to care for the Land, restore its biodiversity and coexist with the wildlife, while recognising that this remains Aboriginal Land. I undertake this responsibility in deep respect for the ancient legacy of caring for country by past generations of the Wyabul people of the Bundjalung nation.
The Djanbung Story is about how the platypus, the most ancient and wise of all beings, in a time of great strife restored harmony by reminding all the animals of their true names, Djoolbeel (totems) and rightful relationships with each other and the Land. Uncle Eric was quite familiar with permaculture concepts and the role that permaculture can play in regenerating not only the land, but reclaiming our place in creation as an integral part of our environment, respecting all aspects of nature and re-building beneficial relationships with all species, elements and the Land.
During the Australiasian Permaculture Convergence APC-7, October 1997, Uncle Eric and his wife Aunty Una visited Djanbung Gardens, accompanied by 10 other Elders from all parts of the Bundjalung Nation, to conduct the official Welcome to Country ceremony. Uncle Eric thanked us for healing the Land here at Djanbung Gardens and thanked the Nimbin community for it’s work and commitment to preserving and conserving the local rainforests at Terania Creek and the Nightcap Range. Uncle Eric passed away in 2007 at the age of 95 years.
At the heart of so many of the problems we face as a society, as a culture, and on this beautiful planet we call home, lies a great disconnection. Our mission at Djanbung Gardens is to support and mentor each other on the journey back to the reconnection with ourselves, each other, with all beings and the Land — the nature to which we belong and that sustains us. Beyond the purely physical and material manifestation of life and the natural world, we also endeavour to acknowledge and work with the spirit of place and explore cultural expressions to heal the disconnect through a deeper connection with life in all its forms.
We thank the Bundjalung Elders, past, present and future, and the Aboriginal people from other areas who have visited Djanbung Gardens over the years, and extend our welcome for future visits, training and cultural exchange to cooperate in the great healing of ourselves, each other and the Land. We offer special scholarship places in our courses for indigenous participants living in the Bundjalung Nation as a mark of our respect to give back to the community and ‘pay the rent’ for our use of this Land.
– Robyn Francis, Djanbung Gardens
Watch this video of the full Platypus story as told by Burri Jerome here at Djanbung Gardens.
Burri Jerome completed a Permaculture Design Course with me in 1989 when he was working with Peter Hardwick at Australia’s first Bushfood Nursery, ‘Wilderness Foods’, in Byron Bay. Burri is a talented Aboriginal artist and storyteller, committed to keeping his culture alive through sharing his love of country through his art and the rich cultural heritage of the Dreamtime stories. Born in Macksville, his father was from the Jarrawah Wakka Wakka people of South East Queensland, his mother was Birrbai Dunguti from Taree. Burri has been based in the Bundjalung Nation for almost three decades.
Local Bundjalung artist belonging to the Yaegl and Widjabul tribes and based in Nimbin, offered to paint a Djanbung Dreaming mural on several panels of the external office wall of our training centre. He spent 18 months painting the panels over almost three years.
The two main panels depict the platypus with its freshwater companions, and the top panel depicts the Bundjalung totems, the snake and the goanna. Gilbert painted this mural to honour the memory of his grandfather, Uncle Eric Walker, who gave us the Djanbung name.
Gilbert’s artworks are exhibited and for sale at the Nimbin Aboriginal Cultural Centre, located on the Sibley Street side of Nimbin Community Centre.
The mural remains the work and copyright of the artist, Gilbert Laurie. Djanbung Gardens and PCA have the permission of the artist to use images of the mural. We request that others do not copy or reproduce these works or images without permission.