Mountain to Mouth, Geelong's two day 80km Extreme Arts walk, has wrapped up its 2016 event lauded as a great success. Over 500 people registered to walk across the event, including 47 who completed the entire 80 kilometres, while over 6000 people attended the ceremonies that took place.
Together they contributed to the creation of a contemporary songline – a pathway across the regions of Geelong and Queenscliff inspired by traditional Indigenous pathways used for thousands of years to navigate across the land through song, story, dance and painting. Over 70 artists were commissioned to create work across the twelve walking circles and three ceremonies, which addressed issues relating to the environment they were set in as well as responding to this year's theme of “Air”.
The journey began midday on Friday 6 May at the You Yangs, where a large crowd gathered at Big Rock on a beautiful sunny day for The Gathering of the Elders ceremony and the start of the walk. Lead by Wadawurrung Elder Uncle Bryon Powell, the ceremony invited walkers and spectators to take a moment to acknowledge the land and its ancestors, to reflect upon where we come from as well as where we will travel to from here.
This was followed by the unveiling of Canoe, the lead ephemeral artwork designed by Papua New Guinean artist Leonard Tebegetu and Australian artist Mahony Kiely. Canoe's important task was to carry water from the ancient rockwell at You Yangs Big Rock to the mouth of Barwon River, where it is returned to the ocean in a spiritual and ritualistic journey. Once this water was harvested from the rockwell, the journey had begun.
Various community groups were invited to carry Canoe for a stage of the walk as a way of honouring them. After Parks Victoria carried Canoe out of the ceremony, CFA members from Lara and Corio took over for the first eleven and a half kilometre leg of the journey, through farmland, bush and along the beautiful Kevin Hoffman Walk.
After what seemed to be a very sweaty journey for the local firefighters, the procession arrived at the historic Lara RSL where artists David Dellafiora and Teresa Lawrence displayed their handmade pinwheels assembled from recycled materials and animated by the wind.
Accompanying the installation were a charming group of local ukulele players, who sang and played while RSL members put on a sausage sizzle for those in attendance.
After a brief rest the procession was off again, on route to Limeburners Lagoon. With the You Yangs already far in the distance, walkers were treated to more stunning sites as they walked alongside wetlands on the Hovells Creek Trail. These wetlands are an internationally protected site under the Ramsar treaty. Simon Macaulay used his walking circle installation to focus attention on the importance of protecting such sites. A large paper cube serving as a meditation space sat beside the walking circle, and the surrounding area was blanketed in a galaxy of small paper cubes that Simon was also handing out to everyone in attendance to remind them of the relationship between beauty and fragility.
As the sun set, the procession of walkers set off with Ford factory workers leading the way carrying Canoe. Walkers were treated to the beautifully lit up night time sites of Geelong's industrial area as they continued on to Moorpanyal Park. At the fourth Songline Station and walking circle in the journey, totems of "pop archaeology" greeted them.
Artist Miranda Kelly utilised discarded and obsolete objects to construct these totems which examined the prevalent nature of consumer-driven society in discarding materials that were once valued greatly, inviting people to consider the consequences of the debris that is created in the process. Deakin University representatives, who helped in the creation of the totems, then took over the reigns of carrying Canoe to Geelong's city centre.
Once the procession arrived in the city Mountain to Mouth collided with Geelong After Dark, Central Geelong's annual night of pop up arts. At Steampacket Gardens by the foreshore, Jacinta Leitch and Dare Tekin created a ritualistic space bordered by kinetic sculptures. This walking circle marked the half way point of the journey as well as being the site of Mountain to Mouth's second ceremony, The Gathering of the City: Geelong Connected Communities.
The ceremony treated spectators to a visually dazzling and heatwarming display of music and dance as people from a diverse range of cultures and backgrounds came together to celebrate diversity and connect in the timeless tradition of dance. Walkers then spent the rest of the evening enjoying Geelong After Dark, or for those who had walked the entirety of the event thus far, retired to get a big rest for the second (and slightly larger) half of the walk the following day.
If you have any stories or pictures you'd like to share from Mountain to Mouth 2016, please do so across our social media channels. We would love to see them.
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/mtomgeelong