The journey of discovery begins at You Yangs big rock

As Mountain to Mouth 2016 approaches, we thought it was time to take a closer look at the Artists and District Coordinators who are guiding different aspects of the journey.

THE BACKGROUND: Six District Coordinators coordinate the twelve Songline Stations across the 80km walk in the Geelong and Queenscliffe regions. Each Station features a walking circle punctuated by an installation, which range from a mixture of audio, interactive, visual and performance arts that interact with and reflect the diverse environments they are set in. Each of the walking circles express the unique nature of its locality and community, playing a significant role in transforming the walk into a journey that encourages its participants to discover extreme arts and the surrounding environment.

SONGLINE STATION 1: YOU YANGS, BIG ROCK. The District Coordinator overseeing the development of the first songline station and walking circle at You Yangs Big Rock is Esther Konings-Oakes, a Geelong based artist who is passionate about the environment and her community. She brings a wealth of experience which includes a previous stint as a District Coordinator and artist at Mountain to Mouth 2014 and Geelong After Dark 2015. She describes the event as a mindful journey that is both literal and figurative, connecting people to the land through thought provoking art.

You Yangs Big Rock is a historically and environmentally significant site, described by Esther as a spiritual place that has been used by indigenous ancestors for thousands of years as a gathering place. It is geologically unique in its structure, with a granite rock base that features an ancient hewn rock well and mysteriously fertile soil that is uncommon for the location. 

You Yangs Big Rock Photo by Willie Wonker

You Yangs Big Rock
Photo by Willie Wonker

The first walking circle is designed by Kerrie Black, an indigenous artist from Geelong with Wemba Wemba and Wathaurong heritage, giving her a special connection to the local area and the land in which she lives. She believes art to be an important part of life, particularly in keeping indigenous stories alive for future generations and to educate the public about her culture and history with the ultimate goal of unifying the community through understanding.

Her installation, "Dance Circle & Fallen Feathers", is a contemporary ceremonial, ground in sand and decorated with bird patterns in ochre. The space is designed to echo the ceremonial spaces of the area that have been danced in for thousands of years. Large fabric feathers referencing the graceful birds, of which the You Yangs are home to over 200 species of, feature at the entrance of the Big Rock to guide walkers to the Gathering of the Elders ceremony at Dance Circle.

From here, the ephemeral sculpture, Canoe, begins its 80 kilometre journey carrying water from the ancient hewn rock well to the mouth of the Barwon River. This event marks the beginning of Mountain to Mouth's journey as a "contemporary songline". A songline is a path across the land recorded in traditional songs, stories, dance and painting. It is said that a knowledgeable person is able to navigate across the land by repeating the words of the song, which describe the location of landmarks and natural phenomena.

Gathering of the Elders ceremony at Mountain to Mouth 2014 Photo by Anne Buckley

Gathering of the Elders ceremony at Mountain to Mouth 2014
Photo by Anne Buckley

This first songline station gives participants the opportunity to begin their journey experiencing something beautiful, meaningful and culturally significant, allowing them to connect with the land, its people and its history like never before.

Mountain to Mouth is Geelong's multi-award winning journey of discovery, an 80km walk over two days and 11 stages. Register now.