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A Letter from a 2018 Walker

Last weekend I did the MOUNTAIN TO MOUTH 80KM EXTREME ARTS WALK creating a contemporary Songline. It is a two day walk from the Sacred Rock Hole of the Wadawurrung in the You Yangs (near Geelong) to the mouth of the Barwon River at Barwon Heads.

The focus of the walk is to do a ceremonial pilgrimage honouring and connecting to the land. The walk incorporates, as well as walking, art, song, ritual, dance, performance, community engagement and environmental awareness and regeneration.

It is one of the most wonderful, rewarding, deepening, spiritual, physically challenging, emotional and enjoyable things I have ever participated in.

The conception is sublime. The walk includes three major ceremonies which include the local Wadawurrung people. They do a ‘Welcome to Country’ and smoking and dance to start the walkers off acknowledging Country.

Photographer: Jarrah Lynch

The icon of the walk is a canoe ‘sculpture’. I.e. a light canoe made by artists which is carried by teams from the community all the way to the Barwon river mouth. The carriers change over every 5-10 kms. The canoe was a truly beautiful creation made of bamboo and parchment.

Travelling with Canoe (she becomes personified) is sacred water drawn from the Big Rock waterhole in the You Yangs by a Wadawurrung elder, and all the walkers. Canoe is carried at 4 km per hour – which is quite a fast walk.  I walked from Big Rock to Lara which is 12 kms in two hours fifteen minutes.

There are 12 ‘Songline Stations’ where Canoe stops for a short rest. At each of these, including Big Rock in the You Yangs, there is a choir to sing the canoe in and out, a major art work installation and performance artists. As well as food vans, tea & coffee facilities, water and other conveniences. The team set up an information tent and you can get your  ‘Pilgrim’s Passport’ stamped.

The walk organisers commission 100 (yes, one hundred) artists to create sculptures, paintings, installations, dances, performance art, etc all along the walk. They also commission music to be composed for the walk and there are repeating chants for the walkers and choirs to sing.

As you walk into a Songline Station there are usually quirky art pieces positioned along the track and every now and then there is a group of performance artists doing a tribute to Country when you least expect them.

The organisation behind the walk is remarkable. Traffic control people closed off roads and intersections so we could get through safely. There are mini buses that will pick you up if you conk out and take you to the next stop. Canoe arrives and leaves pretty much on time.

The art work is all ‘ephemeral’. It is only view-able up to an hour before and after Canoe arrives and leaves. Canoe is accompanied by colourful banners held by walkers. On arrival Canoe does a circle around the major art installation while the choir sings, then is put down and the banners positioned around. Some of the sacred water is poured around the circle. When it is time to leave a special bell is rung and the choir sings everyone out.

The choirs vary from local adult choirs to rehearsed groups of school children and some had been coached, especially for the three major ceremonies, by Jonathan Welch.

I didn’t know before I did the walk just how magnificent in conception and execution it was going to be.  I had heard about it (this is the 3rd public walk and the 4th year the concept has happened.)

As it travels through the Country I was born and raised in I just knew it was a chance to connect with and pay homage to the indigenous Country which has formed my deep connection to Land. I believe, like indigenous people do, that the particular spirit of the land where we are born infuses our being and we remain special to that place and it remains special to us. Even if we are not fully conscious of that in this mad mechanical world. I was born in Geelong and raised in Ocean Grove. I always feel more at home there than anywhere else in a very elemental way.

I walked only about 22Km of the walk – because I hadn’t trained myself up for walking (a big gap in my planning)  and my feet have been giving me a bit of trouble from the pounding they get during my approx 6-7 hours of competitive badminton a week. And let’s face it. I am an ‘old age pensioner’ now.

There is no expectation that all walkers will do the whole trek. Hundreds of walkers do parts of the distance, and a few dozen do the whole length. Some just do one section. The organisers have people scouting around the walkers on bikes to check if everyone is OK and will call the mini bus to pick you up if needed. They provide  transport to the start from Geelong, on to the next station if you can’t keep up with Canoe or can’t make it, back to your car if you need and on to Geelong at the end of the walk. Amazing.

For all this I paid a fee of $40 for two days. That money goes to regenerate the flora along this new ‘songline’, which where ever possible goes off road along walking tracks and the Bellarine ‘rail trail’ and along the beach. This year it was a very high tide so they put us on buses from Pt Lonsdale to Ocean Grove.

The corporate and government sponsorship of this event, to my way of thinking, is the best value for money imaginable. It makes it very affordable and engages up to 11,000 people in the event. Apparently this year it may have been a bit down in numbers. Perhaps because the weather on Friday was pretty rough. Gale force winds blowing in gusty rain storms. I had on full rain gear and hoody and beanie the whole day. Despite walking fast it still felt cold and I didn’t stop once on the 12km for fear of seizing up. Talking to other walkers kept me going. Meeting people being part of the fun.

On the first day I went off after walking to Lara to pick up accommodation keys and Liz from the train (as she was going to walk with me the next day). Later I met up with Canoe and the walkers in Geelong along Corio Bay. Some of them had been at the Opening Ceremony at 9am and been walking from noon till 9.30pm. Arriving in the night at Johnston Park we were greeted by a huge crowd. Geelong was also having an After Dark light festival with laser projections,etc.

Canoe did a circuit to the cheers of the crowd and caroling of the massed choirs and then was set down while there was a marvelous series of performances. The Wadawurrung dancers and didgeridoo, massed dancers both young and old doing some very well rehearsed beautifully executed routines, a brass band playing “What A Wonderful World, as a group of four women carried Mother Earth on their shoulders in a performance indicating she is in much stress and we have important work to do for Her. Such as the Mountain to Mouth Extreme Arts Walk.

That whole ceremony was very exciting, beautiful and moving. Reminding us of our responsibilities to Country/Mother Earth and how much joy She gives us.  Part of the ceremony was many children carrying candle lanterns and lots of children and school groups participated all along. Not many walked – as they would be hard put to keep up the ‘extreme’ pace for long. Many were excited and caressed Canoe as she was very charismatic with her icons of animals on her panels.

The ceremony finished well after 10pm and Canoe was setting off at 6am the next morning so it was time for walkers to get to their lodgings and grab what rest they could!

I got down to the Barwon River Song Line Station at 7am to see the art work – a giant eel. It is eel migration season and this was a major food of the indigenous people of Victoria. This eel and her spawn was made out of recycled plastic and fairy lights (it was still dark when Canoe arrived).

I went to our lodgings and picked up Liz and we went to see the art work and Canoe at a couple more stops before we actually started walking. It is possible to experience all the art and song, and see Canoe come and go, and be handed on to the next Landcare Group, Fire Brigade, Scouts, Health Workers, Lifesavers, Football Team (!), Friends of Swan Bay, etc. etc . That is you can follow the walk without even walking if you want to.

Photographer: Jarrah Lynch

At Drysdale Station there was even a lesbian art work. Canoe came in to a stone circle with children clapping a chant with stones which we could join in to. The Station artist had made a representation of the couple Miss Drysdale and Miss Newcombe who were some of the first white colonists of the area. On our way there I took Liz and Pat to see their original house. Still a feature of the area. Pat dropped us off and we were walking towards Queenscliff on the Rail Trail.

I walked past what had been my brother’s farm and where my father’s ashes are still buried. Down to where I had gone to High School on the shores of Swan Bay. We didn’t make the whole length of this long stage. So we asked the bike ‘minder’ to call the mini bus for us and were taken in early so we could go to the toilet, get food and drink and have a bit of a rest. The day was still windy but at least dry so we could sit on the grass.

We did some of the peripheral activities. At each stop women would come by with a basket offering us pieces of cloth, gum leaves or paper to write our wishes for ourselves or the earth and then collect them to be used in the finale of the walk.

The major art works at each station were amazing. A giant mandala made of sliced up fruit and vegetables arranged in an amazing pattern, fairy lights frozen within giant tear drops suspended over the ocean which they were dripping into. All worth seeing for themselves alone. As were the smaller art pieces planted along the walk as a little surprises if you happened to look that way.

People from the community gathered to welcome and see off the walkers. Some baked muffins and brought them down to the river at dawn to hand out and fuel up the walkers. People waved to us from the special steam train chugging along the track beside the walking path. There were endless special touches.

The whole event had a special feel. Non-competitive, integrated, multi-tasking. Sure there were some participants who were obviously high achieving walkers keen to prove they could do the marathon. But some of the all distance walkers were obviously there in service to Canoe and the spirit of the pilgrimage.

Canoe arrived in Barwon Heads just on sunset. As planned. The bridge was decorated with flags and the Bluff was glowing with the last golden light of the sun as all were welcomed in with cheers, claps and kind words from the woman on the microphone who had been pepping up the crowds and making us feel special all day.

Without delay the final ceremony began. It was an event worth travelling for in its own right. There were drummers, dancers, performers, choirs, fire twirlers (mirrored by others positioned across the other side of the river), There were masses of children parading with candle lanterns, travelling eels, women carrying the large Globe of the Earth which had some of our wishes made along the walk wrapped around her.

The Wadawurrung sang, called in language, danced and smoked Canoe for one last time. Hundreds watched in awe from the sand and the bridge, and the beach was cloaked in the growing darkness lit by lights and light sculptures and projections and the atmosphere built up with special music vibrating in the night air.

Flaming torches were lit and the wishes we had made were ceremonially placed in Canoe and she was put on a boat in the river which was piled high with branches and leaves, Canoe was christened with sacred water from Big Rock in the Mountains which overlook the whole Country we had walked through.

Photographer: Jarah Lynch

The three dancing torch holders bowed to us all and then set Canoe alight and the flames immediately shot up high into the sky. Canoe was pushed off and rapidly moved out along the river mouth into the ocean flaming all the way.

It was a most profound and moving moment. No-one could fail to be moved. I am sure it moved more than just I to tears.

The tide kept going out and we made our way to the conveniently waiting bus to be taken back to Geelong. Our pilgrimage through the Country was over for now. But our spirits were still soaring high and stayed elevated for a long time afterwards. Even when we got back to our lodgings and I fell exhausted into bed after two days out in the elements walking and taking in so much stimulation I was still buzzing with excitement and couldn’t stop talking about it.

For me this was, and is, LIVING. Walking and singing and dancing the land. The organisers call it ‘creating a contemporary songline’. This is working for the Land. This was work worth doing.

Mountain to Mouth takes place ever second year. Surely too complex to organise  every year. 2018 was the third one in this current incarnation. The first was conceived differently. It was all conceived by a woman [Meme McDonald] (who passed away late in 2017). That time water was gathered from the mouth of the river and carried to the mountain. It was carried by various means of transport: canoes, bicycles, runners, horse riders, utes, women with prams, train, etc.

Each year has a different theme. This year was Earth. One year fire was carried in that Canoe from Mountain to Mouth.

Having done this journey once I will do it again next time. May 2020. I invite those who want to join me. Either as walkers or support team. Many walked in groups with support teams (or individuals). Support teams may drive to the next ‘Station’ and have cups of tea and food ready. Or they could be relay walkers and supporters. Changing roles.

Next time I will be more trained up to walk long distance. Maybe you will be too. Who would miss a chance like this?

Chris Sitka

Mountain to Mouth – more than the sum of all parts

Canoe has travelled the 80km extreme arts walk from Big Rock in the You Yangs to the foreshore of Barwon Heads.

Planting along the songline occurred at Limeburners Lagoon led by District Coordinator Matt Crawley.

A huge number of you (48 in fact!) walked the entire 80kms; many with blisters (some open, some more extreme), tight muscles but a huge sense of achievement when Barwon Heads rotunda on the Barwon Heads foreshore came into view.

Mountain to Mouth 2016: Day 2 in summary

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”.

Bright and early on day 2 of Mountain to Mouth 2016!  Image by Dean Walters Photography

Bright and early on day 2 of Mountain to Mouth 2016!

Image by Dean Walters Photography

"Lost River View" by Jennifer McElwee.  Image by Jo Mitchell.

"Lost River View" by Jennifer McElwee.

Image by Jo Mitchell.

On an early Saturday morning, on the second day of the Mountain to Mouth journey, a large group of fresh and seasoned walkers began the march to Barwon River Rowing Club. Representatives from the Karingal Foundation led the way out of the city and past the stadium before crossing the bridge and descending onto the walking track by the river. Walkers were greeted by people wielding lanterns whilst drumming plastic containers upon arrival at the sixth Songline Station. Here attendees appreciated Jennifer McElwee's magnificent sculpture "Lost River View", which is modelled on the shape of the river featured in Eugene von Guerard's painting View of Geelong 1856. The walking circle surrounding it was constructed with pots and pans that represented early settlements by the river and were filled with dry ice, creating a picturesque scene as the sun rose in the distance. Jennifer's walking circle examined the changing of environments driven by human settlement, giving walkers much to ponder upon as they continued the journey towards Christies Road led this time by local crossing supervisors.

Crossing supervisors carrying Canoe alongside the Barwon River towards Christies Rd.   Image by Dean Walters Photography.

Crossing supervisors carrying Canoe alongside the Barwon River towards Christies Rd.

Image by Dean Walters Photography.

The long march to Christies Rd.   Image by Dean Walters Photography.

The long march to Christies Rd.

Image by Dean Walters Photography.

Mirjana Margetic continued the theme of examining environmental issues at the eighth Songline Station. Upon arrival, walkers were led through a corridor of bush, where birds and nests made from recycled materials lay amongst the shrubs to be discovered by passers. As you exit the corridor, you are confronted with the sculpture of a tree with plastic bags full of different coloured liquids representing pollutants. The walking circle encourages viewers to consider the environmental issues facing the region and uses the pleasant walk through the green corridor full of birds and nests to make the tree at the end all the more provocative. Mirjana was on the ground enthusiastically giving tours to detail the installation's message and her artistic background to everyone who was interested. 

Mirjana Margetic speaking about her installation at Christies Rd.   Image by Dean Walters Photography.

Mirjana Margetic speaking about her installation at Christies Rd.

Image by Dean Walters Photography.

Ingrid Petterson's walking circle "Hearth Stories".  Image by Azaan Naqshbandi

Ingrid Petterson's walking circle "Hearth Stories".

Image by Azaan Naqshbandi

From there the journey continued along the Bellarine Rail Trail as the overcast weather gave way for another beautiful and sunny day, with Canoe now carried by the Geelong Sustainability group. After a particularly long stage of walking, the procession arrived at Drysdale Station where Ingrid Petterson gave participants a ritualistic and sensual experience of sight, sound and scent in a charming and slightly pagan-esque walking circle. 

Alapcas leading the procession of Canoe.  Image by Daniel Huigsloot.

Alapcas leading the procession of Canoe.

Image by Daniel Huigsloot.

Walkers were then provided a choice between continuing their journey on foot or riding Bellarine Railway's historic locomotive to Swan Bay, the site of the ninth walking circle. A small herd of alpacas escorted Canoe as it left Drysdale, with a few others posing for photos and seeing the train travelers off. As the journey descends into Queenscliff, participants are treated to outstanding views of Swan Bay and the entrance of Port Phillip Bay as the route passes by olive groves, vineyards and thickets of ancient moonah. 

The ninth walking circle was located beside the Swan Bay Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre, where a number of walkers and visitors took up the opportunity to discover more about the wildlife of the bay with aquariums featuring a variety of fish species and a touch tank where visitors could get closer to animals like starfish and crabs. The walking circle itself housed an epic and monolithic basalt installation by renowned arts practitioner Glenn Romanis, "Banjo Ray", depicting one of the bays most famous residents. At this point, a lot of walkers seemed rather wearied, with a few taking a quick nap under the sun, while others proclaimed their intention to use the event's shuttle service for the next couple of stages.

An aerial shot of "Banjo Ray" by Glenn Romanis (If a person was in the shot they would take up about the space of one of the eyes).  Image by Jarrod Boord.

An aerial shot of "Banjo Ray" by Glenn Romanis (If a person was in the shot they would take up about the space of one of the eyes).

Image by Jarrod Boord.

Walking by Swan Bay.   Image by Dean Walters Photography.

Walking by Swan Bay.

Image by Dean Walters Photography.

The procession reaches the coast side.    Image by Dean Walters Photography.

The procession reaches the coast side. 

Image by Dean Walters Photography.

"Wind Worx II.1000" by Brian Thompson, overlooking the sea at Point Lonsdale.  Image by Daniel Huigsloot.

"Wind Worx II.1000" by Brian Thompson, overlooking the sea at Point Lonsdale.

Image by Daniel Huigsloot.

Those who pressed on soon hit the coast, where they were met by a king tide before arriving at Point Lonsdale village. On the foreshore overlooking the sea, engineer turned artist Brian Thompson displayed an imposing and impressive metal structure inspired by the H2O cycle. The installation was meticulously constructed so that it would respond to changes in the weather, remaining in a state of continual interaction with the wind, sun, clouds and sea. Across the road meanwhile, the charming band of ukulele players were back on ground to serenade walkers and passers by as they rested and admired the artwork. 

The hooded plover lovers taking over the carrying of Canoe.  Image by Daniel Huigsloot.

The hooded plover lovers taking over the carrying of Canoe.

Image by Daniel Huigsloot.

Next in line for the duty of carrying Canoe was a group of hooded plover conservationists, aptly self-dubbed "the hooded plover lovers". One of their charismatic members gave a quick speech discussing the importance of protecting these birds before the group donned their full-head plover masks and set off towards Ocean Grove. 

The threat of rain and a persistent king tide threatened to spoil the adventure, with the latter delaying the erection of Suyin Honeywell's beautiful "beacon of hope" walking circle installation set on the shores of Ocean Grove's main beach. Both gave way in time for everything to work out perfectly, and droves of beach goers were drawn to the spectacle of the tenth Songline Station on the beach opening, followed by the eventual arrival of Canoe and its procession. 

Suyin Honeywell's bamboo sculpture at the centre of the walking circle at Ocean Grove.   Image by Dean Walters Photography.

Suyin Honeywell's bamboo sculpture at the centre of the walking circle at Ocean Grove.

Image by Dean Walters Photography.

Crossing the final bridge.   Image by Dean Walters Photography.

Crossing the final bridge.

Image by Dean Walters Photography.

All of a sudden we'd reached the final leg of the journey, as young lifeguards from the Ocean Grove Surf Life Saving Club led the way towards Barwon Heads Foreshore for the final Songline Station and closing ceremony. The Mountain to Mouth procession crossed the last bridge to the mouth of the river and was greeted with cheers as thousands of people enjoyed the final walking circle was took positions on the foreshore, eagerly waiting for the closing ceremony to begin. Artists Michelle Fifer Spooner and Julie Shaw constructed a large sculpture of a feather, serving as a 'welcome home' totem echoing the journey and marking the end of the Extreme Arts walk. 

"Feather" by Michelle Fifer Spooner and Julie Shaw.   Image by Daniel Huigsloot.

"Feather" by Michelle Fifer Spooner and Julie Shaw.

Image by Daniel Huigsloot.

And that was 80km done! Familiar faces from the previous ceremonies returned to give speeches proclaiming the success of its event and how magical it has been. Mountain to Mouth artistic director Meme McDonald commented that "Mountain to Mouth 2016 has exceeded our dreams of what could be achieved artistically - with what each artist contributed creatively - but also in how much it was embraced by the local communities along the walk."

The Gathering of the Elements ceremony was a truly magical end complete with stunning visuals and moving music that contributed to an Olympic Games-esque sense of grandeur. A group of drummers lead the procession of Canoe down from the final walking circle to the edge of the water. From across the other side of the river, a large egg floated towards spectators on a boat, watched over by spirit bird dancers who had appeared in the previous two ceremonies.

Hatching of the egg.   Image by Dean Walters Photography.

Hatching of the egg.

Image by Dean Walters Photography.

The school of fish puppets at The Gathering of the Elements ceremony.   Image by Dean Walters Photography .

The school of fish puppets at The Gathering of the Elements ceremony.

Image by Dean Walters Photography.

As a school of fish puppets dashed across the foreshore, the egg hatched, with newly birthed spirit bird dancer performing a delightful dance as she brought the water carried by Canoe from the rockwell at You Yangs Big Rock and returned it to the sea. Canoe was then set alight and drifted out to sea, marking the end of a ritualistic journey and traversing of a contemporary songline. The crowd left knowing they'd seen something special and wishing something so magical could occur again sooner than in two years time. 

Water from the You Yangs rockwell is returned to the ocean.   Image by Dean Walters Photography.

Water from the You Yangs rockwell is returned to the ocean.

Image by Dean Walters Photography.

Canoe is set aflame.   Image by Dean Walters Photography.

Canoe is set aflame.

Image by Dean Walters Photography.

The end of the journey.   

The end of the journey.

 

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mtomgeelong

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MountaintoMouth

 

Mountain to Mouth 2016: Day 1 in summary

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”.

Parks Victoria and Canoe artists Leonard Tebegetu and Mahony Kiely carrying Canoe through the first walking circle at the conclusion of The Gathering of the Elders ceremony.  Image by Ed Sloane Photography

Parks Victoria and Canoe artists Leonard Tebegetu and Mahony Kiely carrying Canoe through the first walking circle at the conclusion of The Gathering of the Elders ceremony.

Image by Ed Sloane Photography

The journey begins.  Image by Dean Walters Photography

The journey begins.

Image by Dean Walters Photography

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.

CFA carry Canoe to Lara.  Image by Dean Walters Photography

CFA carry Canoe to Lara.

Image by Dean Walters Photography

 

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. 

 

Handmade pinwheels animated by wind at Lara RSL, the second Songline Station.  Image by Ed Sloane Photography.

Handmade pinwheels animated by wind at Lara RSL, the second Songline Station.

Image by Ed Sloane Photography.

Canoe journeys through the wetlands.  Image by Dean Walters Photography

Canoe journeys through the wetlands.

Image by Dean Walters Photography

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. 

Simon Macaulay's walking circle MC3 at Limeburners Lagoon.   Image by Ed Sloane Photography

Simon Macaulay's walking circle MC3 at Limeburners Lagoon. 

Image by Ed Sloane Photography

Artist Simon Macaulay talks walkers through the messages of his installation.  Image by Ed Sloane Photography

Artist Simon Macaulay talks walkers through the messages of his installation.

Image by Ed Sloane Photography

Ford factory workers carrying Canoe through industrial Geelong.  Image by Dean Walters Photography.

Ford factory workers carrying Canoe through industrial Geelong.

Image by Dean Walters Photography.

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.

Pop archaeology at Moorpanyal Park.  Image by Ed Sloane Photography.

Pop archaeology at Moorpanyal Park.

Image by Ed Sloane Photography.

Pop archaeology at Moorpanyal Park.  Image by Ed Sloane Photography.

Pop archaeology at Moorpanyal Park.

Image by Ed Sloane Photography.

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.

Deakin University academics arrive at Steampacket Gardens with Canoe for The Gathering of the City: Geelong Connected Communities ceremony.  Image by Dean Walters Photography.

Deakin University academics arrive at Steampacket Gardens with Canoe for The Gathering of the City: Geelong Connected Communities ceremony.

Image by Dean Walters Photography.

Canoe sits in the centre of the dance space for the Gathering of the City: Geelong Connected Communities ceremony.  Image by Ed Sloane Photography.

Canoe sits in the centre of the dance space for the Gathering of the City: Geelong Connected Communities ceremony.

Image by Ed Sloane Photography.

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.

The Gathering of the City: Geelong Connected Communities ceremony.  Image by Ed Sloane Photography.

The Gathering of the City: Geelong Connected Communities ceremony.

Image by Ed Sloane Photography.

The Gathering of the City: Geelong Connected Communities ceremony.  Image by Ed Sloane Photography.

The Gathering of the City: Geelong Connected Communities ceremony.

Image by Ed Sloane Photography.

The Gathering of the City: Geelong Connected Communities ceremony.  Image by Ed Sloane Photography.

The Gathering of the City: Geelong Connected Communities ceremony.

Image by Ed Sloane Photography.

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mtomgeelong

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MountaintoMouth

 

Celebration and completion on the Barwon Heads foreshore

Over the past couple of months we have been taking a closer look at the Artists, District Coordinators and locations involved in the Mountain to Mouth journey of discovery. With Mountain to Mouth 2016 just one week away, it's the last chance to check out all the different stages of the walk and register for the ones that most appeal to you.

THE BACKGROUND: Six District Coordinators organise 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 12: BARWON HEADS FORESHORE. We end our journey of discovery upon the coast of Barwon Heads, where highly esteemed installation artist Michelle Fifer Spooner reflects upon the strength and fragility of coastal environments. "Feather" forms a welcome home totem echoing journey and freedom and marking the end of the Extreme Arts Walk. Beneath the totem is a walking circle in sand designed by Julie Shaw and installed with the assistance of Barwon Heads residents. A trail of feathers have been leading Canoe and its procession of walkers along the 80 kilometre contemporary songline, and they represent the Wadawurrung story of how the Creator navigated across land by following the feathers dropped by the Swan sisters. 

Barwon Heads Foreshore  Photo by Lynden Smith

Barwon Heads Foreshore

Photo by Lynden Smith

The themes of this story are explored further in the Gathering of the Elements, the ceremony of completion where water from the ancient hewn rock well at Big Rock in the You Yangs, that has been carried in Canoe over 80 kilometres, is returned to the sea in an expression of gratitude. Here river meets sea, freshwater and salt become one and mark a point in which we all stand in the past, present and future for one moment as we acknowledge the elements that came together to support our journey both as individuals and a community.

Fiona Duncan, district coordinator for Songline Station 12, expects the ceremony to be poetic and magnificent. She said that a lot of work has gone into the planning process of the completion ceremony, which is described as a dramatic, pyrotechnic display of performance art using the river, the beach, the pier and the ocean as a stage. Community groups were engaged to help create fish puppets for the ceremony, including students from Barwon Heads primary school and final year student teachers from the IKE (Koori Education) program at Deakin, who flew in from places as far as Darwin and Perth. 

Punters watching the burning of Canoe at Mountain to Mouth 2014 Photo by Gloria Van Der Meer

Punters watching the burning of Canoe at Mountain to Mouth 2014
Photo by Gloria Van Der Meer

During the ceremony Canoe, having completed its journey, will be set alight, reflecting the ephemeral nature of the journey and the walking circles throughout it. The installations and the journey itself will continue existing in the minds of the walkers who participated, allowing it to retain beauty in a way that can only be achieved by a temporary existence. 

The Songline Station at Barwon Heads Foreshore is open from 4:00pm-7:00pm on the second day of Mountain to Mouth 2016 (7 May), after an easy-going 3km walk from Ocean Grove Surf Life Saving Club. Check out the timetable for more information. 

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

Convergence of elements at the iconic Ocean Grove

Over the past couple of months we have been taking a closer look at the Artists, District Coordinators and locations involved in the Mountain to Mouth journey of discovery. With Mountain to Mouth 2016 just one week away, it's the last chance to check out all the different stages of the walk and register for the ones that most appeal to you.

THE BACKGROUND: Six District Coordinators organise 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 11: OCEAN GROVE SURF LIFE SAVING CLUB. Located at one of the most iconic beaches of the region, a simple yet imposing bamboo structure sits as a beacon of hope, connecting the elements of air, water and earth to a place of dreaming. Fiona Duncan, the district coordinator for Songline Stations 11 and 12 describes the installation by Suyin Honeywell in the coveted Ocean Grove setting as clever and inspiring.

Fiona is no stranger to the coveted and inspiring, having spent the past 25 years as an Artist Manager and Consultant in the Australian Music Industry, which has seen her work alongside the likes of Nirvana, Nick Cave, Metallica and the Beastie Boys as well as on major events such as the Big Day Out. She echoes the familiar tale of moving to the coast from a bigger, busier place to fall in love with the Greater Geelong region. Witnessing Mountain to Mouth 2014 gave her an epiphany of how special, connected and wildly creative this community could be and how much she wanted to be a part of it, something she has proudly achieved. 

Ocean Grove Beach  Photo by Craig Robinson

Ocean Grove Beach

Photo by Craig Robinson

"Air, Water, Earth and Dreaming" is a beautiful, natural structure that takes the shape of a tee-pee that reaches towards the sky. The silk flags mounted to the top of the structure will breathe life into it, showing the direction and movement of air. Interwoven pieces of driftwood, shells and rocks hang in the centre of the installation, reflecting the land that the piece lies on. Dream catchers made from a range of mixed-media material are suspended on each of the four walls. Children from the four local schools in Ocean Grove were invited to contribute to the making of these dream catchers, to strengthen to connection between the land and the community as well as harnessing the enthusiasm and energy of the youth.

Suyin is deeply interested in reflecting the physical and emotional relationships people develop with the natural environment and has an extensive background of presenting engaging and inclusive community arts projects. She has worked on a number of occasions with schools to facilitate students in the making and creating of large projects in coastal and rural townships throughout Victoria. 

The Songline Station at Ocean Grove Surf Life Saving Club is open from 4:00pm-6:00pm on the second day of Mountain to Mouth 2016 (7 May), after a 8.5km walk from Point Lonsdale Village. Please note that this is a particularly hard leg of the walk as it is all on soft sand. Check out the timetable for more information. 

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

Reflecting natural cycles at Point Lonsdale

Over the past few weeks we have been taking a closer look at the Artists, District Coordinators and locations involved in the Mountain to Mouth journey. With Mountain to Mouth 2016 under 2 weeks away, there is no better time to register and begin engaging with the different aspects of the event.

THE BACKGROUND: Six District Coordinators organise 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 10: POINT LONSDALE VILLAGE. In a quiet village within the Borough of Queenscliffe, a walking circle of a different kind will sit juxtaposed against the expansive views of Port Phillips Head. "Wind Worx II.1000" is an installation that is inspired by the H20 cycle, referencing the continual interaction of wind, sun, clouds and the ocean. Although this cycle is well-understood and known by most, it is worth reflecting on the significance of this energy exchange. The continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth influences the climate and shapes the geological features of the land. It is a never-ending dance of energy flows with incredible varieties in physical processes that sustain all life and ecosystems on the planet.

The sculptured rocks and rock pools at the beach in Point Lonsdale.  Photo by Dennis C via Tripadvisor

The sculptured rocks and rock pools at the beach in Point Lonsdale.

Photo by Dennis C via Tripadvisor

The artist for this walking circle, Brian Thompson comes from a background of technical engineering, a skill that has taken him to mine sites and industrial plants around the country and the world. His artistic style has its root in industrial design, which seems to give him a more methodological and scientific approach in comparison to some of the other walking circle artists found across the event. On the other hand, he also has a background as a magician and is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. Driving this interest is his fascination with the art of illusion.

Preliminary design for Point Lonsdale installation.

Preliminary design for Point Lonsdale installation.

In his art installation he consolidates this attraction to magical illusions with his scientific background by focusing on kinetic sculpture, which has its own dynamic visuals that are almost an optical illusion. Here it is seen how much the lines can be blurred between science and magic, and often the two can be almost mistakable or from certain perspectives, the same thing. The H20 cycle is an undoubtedly scientific process, but it cannot be denied that both the process and result of it are magical. 

The Songline Station at Point Lonsdale Village is open from 1:30pm-3:45pm on the second day of Mountain to Mouth 2016 (7 May), after a 2.8km walk from Swan Bay. Check out the timetable for more information. 

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

 

Discover the Banjo Ray at Swan Bay

Over the past few weeks we have been taking a closer look at the Artists, District Coordinators and locations involved in the Mountain to Mouth journey. With Mountain to Mouth 2016 just under 2 weeks away, there is no better time to register and begin engaging with the different aspects of the event.

THE BACKGROUND: Six District Coordinators organise 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 9: SWAN BAY - MARINE AND FRESHWATER DISCOVERY CENTRE. Leanne Stein is the District Coordinator for Songline Stations 9 and 10. She is an Arts Officer with Borough of Queenscliffe, putting her in an ideal position to oversee Songline Stations located in the Borough. She has experience in supporting an environment in which arts activities can flourish as well as having the necessary community ties for these activities to have a meaningful impact and reach.

Swan Bay is a wetlands site of international significance, providing a magical ecosystem for a myriad of animal and plant species. It is renowned for its diversity of migratory birds, with as many as 200 species seen in the area, some of which are endangered. Each year, as many as 10, 000 migratory wading birds descend on the waterway, some of which migrate from as far away as Alaska and Siberia - a round trip of over 24,000 km (Makes the 80km walk sound like nothing!). 

Discovering wildlife at Swan Bay

Discovering wildlife at Swan Bay

It is for these reasons that Swan Bay is protected under the Ramsar agreement. The treaty was negotiated through the sixties and came into force in 1975 as a response to global concerns about the increasing loss and degradation of wetland habitats for migratory waterbirds. Wetlands are vital for human survival, being among the world's most productive environments as a cradle of biological diversity upon which countless species of plants and animals depend for survival. Wetlands also play a key role in the carbon cycle, holding twice as much carbon as the world's rainforests and stemming the negative effects of climate change.

Banjo Ray installation, first concept

Banjo Ray installation, first concept

"Banjo Ray", the walking circle at this site, depicts another iconic resident of Swan Bay through a large, temporary basalt installation. Banjo Rays are one of the largest species of stingrays in Australia and live amongst the seagrass beds in this beautiful and unique habitat. This depiction tells one of the many stories that make Swan Bay a place of such importance. Artist Glenn Romanis is a renowned arts practitioner with a history of over 150 large scale public and community arts projects. He seeks to tell stories that inform about the natural and cultural histories attributed to a place in order to foster respect and understanding for the land. 

Wooden Echidna sculptures at Jan Juc Park by Glenn Romanis

Wooden Echidna sculptures at Jan Juc Park by Glenn Romanis

Walkers travelling from the previous Songline Station at Drysdale Station are given the exciting option to take an iconic train hauled by a historic locomotive between Drysdale and Queenscliff as part of a partnership between Bellarine Railway and Mountain to Mouth. The train line was built in 1879 and offers outstanding views of Swan Bay, the entrance of Port Phillip Bay, olive groves and vineyards, winding through thickets of ancient moonah as it descends towards Queenscliffe. After travelling through the remnant bush land of the Bellarine Peninsula, participants arrive at the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre half an hour before the "Banjo Ray" walking circle opens. The Centre features aquariums and touch tanks where visitors can get closer to animals like starfish and crabs, as well as boardwalks with more stunning views of the area that walkers can enjoy before the Songline Station opens at 12:30pm. 

The Touch Tank at The Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre

The Touch Tank at The Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre

The Bellarine Railway is a integral part of Queenscliff's local history, and offers a significant contribution to the combination of arts, culture and community that Mountain to Mouth  2016 represents. Tickets for the train journey are $20 (adults), $15 (seniors, children), and $40 (family, 2 adults, up to 3 children) and can be purchased directly from the Bellarine Railway.

The train departs Drysdale Station at 11:20am and arrives at Swan Bay Station at 12:00pm. The Songline Station at the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre is open from 12:30pm-3:00pm on the second day of Mountain to Mouth 2016 (7 May), after a 13.9km walk (or train ride) from Drysdale Station. Check out the timetable for more information. 

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

 

The origins of Mountain to Mouth

Mountain to Mouth was envisioned as part of the "Connecting Identities" project in 2007, which was created in response to the rapid changes that were taking place at the time in the Geelong region across all levels of the community, the economy and the landscape. These changes and upheavals were felt by some to create a sense of discord and negative perception about the direction the region was headed.

This project aimed to create links across the increasingly diverse municipality and reinforce the importance of local places and community by encouraging people to connect with the land and with each other. Mountain to Mouth was a vessel to achieve this through a collaborative, community based project that told an important story with important messages. Establishing a connection to the land could be done by introducing the indigenous concept of the Songline - a path across the land recorded through a song describing landmarks and natural phenomena. Mountain to Mouth was to create a contemporary songline, allowing the community to establish a significant bond and sense of respect for the land and its history. 

The first version of this project in 2009 was a 54km relay from Barwon Heads to the You Yangs, and was called Mouth to Mountain. 144 ambassadors representing the 12 wards of Council carried water from Barwon Heads – kayaking, on horses, strolling, in processions, by train, in utes, on bike and foot. People of Geelong joined the relay at locations along the way, taking a moment to reflect on the gift of water, the memory it holds, the connection it makes between people and places, and the future it creates. Artworks marked the journey through iconic locations arriving at dusk for a big celebration at Big Rock.

The event was so well received in the community that it was redesigned in 2014 to be a larger and more inclusive event that would occur every two years. Mountain to Mouth 2014 was the first incarnation of the event as we know it today; an 80km walk over two days from the You Yangs to the mouth of Barwon Heads. 

Close to 1,000 people took part in some or all of the 80km journey, more than 80 artists worked with over 2,400 participants to create thousands of art works that featured along the journey, and an estimated 12,000 people gathered to watch various aspects of the event. With major awards and community appraisals under its belt, Mountain to Mouth aims to continue sharing this very unique and wonderful event with all aspects of the community and beyond this year, and for years to come.

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

 

 

Hearth stories and historic train rides at Drysdale station

Over the past few weeks, we have been taking a closer look at the Artists, District Coordinators and locations involved in the Mountain to Mouth journey. With Mountain to Mouth 2016 just 2 weeks away, there is no better time to register and begin engaging with the different aspects of the event.

THE BACKGROUND: Six District Coordinators organise 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 8: DRYSDALE STATION. Located in the centre of the picturesque, rolling farmlands of the Bellarine, the Songline Station at Drysdale Station gives walkers the chance to connect with the unique character of an area quite different to others found in this journey of discovery. Artist Ingrid Petterson hopes to tell stories that evoke the industrial and agricultural history of the region through a multi-sensual experience of sight, sound and scent. Described as a steamy sound sculpture, "Hearth Stories" is a walking circle that gives voice to Drysdale's character through tales that would be told around the community fire or the hearth at home. They speak of both personal and collective experiences that examine the relationship between humankind and nature, survival and evolution, individuality and collectivism. Ingrid describes her art as medicine, which is intuitive, elemental and experiential. Through her walking circle, she invites participants to hear the sounds of people and place. 

Ingrid's "art medicine" - pictured here with  Costa Georgiadis.  

Ingrid's "art medicine" - pictured here with Costa Georgiadis. 

"Edmonson Tickets" from the 19th century, still used by heritage railways.

"Edmonson Tickets" from the 19th century, still used by heritage railways.

 

As the journey continues towards Swan Bay, walkers are given the exciting option to take an iconic train hauled by a historic locomotive between Drysdale and Queenscliffe as part of a partnership between the Bellarine Railway and Mountain to Mouth. The train line was built in 1879 and offers outstanding views of Swan Bay, the entrance of Port Phillip Bay, olive groves and vineyards, winding through thickets of ancient moonah as it descends towards Queenscliff.

Bellarine Railway "Pozieres" at Banks Road. 

Bellarine Railway "Pozieres" at Banks Road. 

After travelling through the remnant bush land of the Bellarine Peninsula, participants arrive at the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre, the site of the next Songline Station, where they have the opportunity to gain an understanding of the marine and birdlife Swan Bay supports as a Ramsar site. The Centre features aquariums and touch tanks where visitors can get closer to animals like starfish and crabs. Visitors can also wander the boardwalks to experience more stunning views of the area before the ninth Songline Station opens at 12:30pm. 

The Bellarine Railway is a integral part of Queenscliff's local history, and offers a significant contribution to the combination of arts, culture and community that Mountain to Mouth 2016 represents. Tickets for the train journey are $20 (adults), $15 (seniors, children), and $40 (family, 2 adults, up to 3 children) and can be purchased directly from the Bellarine Railway.

The train departs Drysdale Station at 11:20am and arrives at Swan Bay Station at 12:00pm.  The Songline Station at Drysdale Station is open from 11:00am-1:45pm on the second day of Mountain to Mouth 2016 (7 May), following a 7.6km walk from Christies Rd. Check out the timetable for more information. 

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

 

Reinvigorating natural beauty at Christies Road

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 organise 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.

One of the plantings at Christies Road  Photo by Matt Crawley 

One of the plantings at Christies Road

Photo by Matt Crawley 

SONGLINE STATION 7: CHRISTIES ROAD. Rachella Thomas is the District Coordinator for the seventh and eighth Songline Stations. With over 15 years experience in events that span from food and wine festivals, event management in the city of Wyndam, to the Royal Melbourne Show, she brings a wealth of valuable experience to Mountain to Mouth 2016. Getting to know the community she lives in and contributing to it is important to Rachella, leading her to spend a large part of the 2 years since she moved to Geelong building networks through volunteering. A month after she moved to Geelong, Mountain to Mouth 2014 was on. Knowing little about the event, she decided to go and was blown away by the great display of creativity and community. Rachella jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this event, which she felt encompassed her personal journey of getting to know all the aspects of the Geelong region, the landscape and it's people. 

Volunteers from the Friends of the Bellarine Rail Trail in action. 

Volunteers from the Friends of the Bellarine Rail Trail in action. 

Christies Road is a significant environmental site for the Mountain to Mouth project. Indigenous plants have been recently reintroduced at the site as part of the event's ecological initiative, the "Green Corridor" strategy, which is the execution of a long term vision to revegetate the local habitat with plantings of Indigenous species of grasses, trees and shrubs. Half of the tickets sold go towards funding this project, which connects local communities and revegetation organisations together to care for the eleven songline corridors across the 80km walk so that the region can retain its natural beauty. Walking maps and signage at a number of these sites will eventually be installed to encourage all year walking of this contemporary songline. The planting at Christies Road was conducted by the Friends of the Bellarine Rail Trail,  a volunteer group committed to the indigenous revegetation of the Bellarine Rail Trail. They have planted approximately 83, 000 indigenous flora since their inception in 2002. 

Workshop session making birds and nests.   Photo by Rachella Thomas

Workshop session making birds and nests. 

Photo by Rachella Thomas

The walking circle at Christies Road invites and provokes people's understanding of the environmental issues facing the region. "Grey Tree" is an artwork that represents a living narrative, employing the use of poetic visual metaphors and symbolic meanings to deal with growing questions about our impact on the land. Artist Mirjana Margetic, who is passionate about exploring the concept of human impact on the environment, wants to bring particular attention on air pollution and acid rain.

Birds and nests made in workshops from found and recycled objects with local residents are hidden in the shrubs for walkers to discover as they follow the path of the walking circle. 

The Songline Station at Christies Road is open from 8:00am-10:15am on the second day of Mountain to Mouth 2016 (7 May), after a 10km walk from the Barwon River Rowing Precinct. Check out the timetable for more information. 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering lost views in a changing environment at Barwon River

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 organise 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 6: BARWON RIVER ROWING PRECINCT. Kicking off the second day of Mountain to Mouth 2016 is the sixth songline station at Barwon River Rowing Precinct, where artist Jennifer McElwee will present "Lost River View", a walking circle that signifies the changes to the environment that have resulted from the obtrusion of suburban expansion. She uses Eugene von Guerard's View of Geelong, 1856, as a reference point for the ways in which the area has adversely changed, the most significant consequence being that the view depicted in von Guerard's painting can no longer be seen.

View of Geelong,  1856, by Eugene von Guerard

View of Geelong, 1856, by Eugene von Guerard

For over a century the general public was unaware of von Guerard's painting. McElwee questions whether the self esteem of the community and sense of value for the environment would have been stronger if it was known how highly the region and painting was regarded. The walking circle will be formed by water filled cooking vessels symbolising settlement along the river. In the centre lies a sculpture based on the original shape of the river from the perspective of the now lost view. The extremity of the art lies within the challenge of its demand; that we must consider the needs of the community concurrently with the needs of the environment by regarding significant natural sites.

The Songline Station at Barwon River Rowing Precinct is open from 6:00am-7:45am on the second day of Mountain to Mouth 2016 (7 May), after a 2.9km walk from Steampacket Gardens. Check out the timetable for more information. 

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

Celebrating the traditional and the contemporary at Steampacket Gardens

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 organise 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 5: STEAMPACKET GARDENS. Journeying into the city centre from Moorpanyal Park, this station represents the central point in the Mountain to Mouth 2016 journey, where it collides with Geelong After Dark 2016 in the recently announced ceremony, Gathering of the City: Geelong Connected Communities. The ceremony welcomes the ephemeral sculpture Canoe and its entourage of walkers and flag bearers to its overnight resting place at Steampacket Gardens, where dancers from all parts of the city gather people together to join in a dance that celebrates Mountain to Mouth's 2016 theme of “Air”.

The ceremony is brought to you by a stellar team headed by director Margie Mackay, A Melbourne based artist and researcher who engages in ritual art practices both nationally and internationally, utilising fire, projection, dance and puppetry to create exuberant and epic shows. She is joined by Gilbert Douglas, one of Southern Africa's most respected contemporary dance choreographers and teachers, as well as composer Danny Krivan and lighting designer Philip Lethlean. The resulting product is a multi-sensory experience that allows walkers to enjoy a dance that honours timeless tradition as well as contemporary technique. Everyone is welcome to join in and be a part of the celebrations.

Gathering of the City at Mountain to Mouth 2014  Photo by Brien Cohn

Gathering of the City at Mountain to Mouth 2014

Photo by Brien Cohn

The walking circle at Steampacket Gardens also focuses on the theme of air. Artists Jacinta Leitch and Dare Tekin explore this concept in their installation “We Don't Need Wings To Fly” through large, ambiguous forms. Kinetic sculptures with a leafy appearance are arranged in a circular pattern, creating a space for ritual and meditation that pays homage to the land and its ancestors while offering possibilities for renewal and growth. Walking amonst these sculptural forms creates a visually stimulating and reflective experience for participants as they consider the journey they are on as well as the destination that lies ahead.

The Songline Station at Steampacket Gardens is open from 7:00pm to 9:30pm, following a 6.7km walk from Moorpanyal Park. It marks the end of the first day of Mountain to Mouth 2016, which starts up again bright and early the following morning at 6am. Experience Geelong's picturesque Corio Bay in the stillness and tranquility of pre-dawn. For more information, check out the timetable.

Gathering of the City: Geelong Connected Communities kicks off at 8:10pm on Friday 6 May. Those who would like to get involved as a dancer can express their interest at mtom@geelongcity.vic.gov.au

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

Discarded yesterday but valued today

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 organise 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 4: MOORPANYAL PARK. With 15 metre high sandstone cliffs and indigenous grasslands, Moorpanyal Park is a hidden treasure of inner Corio Bay with 1.5km of pristine coastal frontage. Sixty years ago it was an industrial site used as part of the Port of Geelong, however since 2004 there has been an extensive rehabilitation and revegetation initiative. More than 70 000 indigenous grasses, trees and shrubs have been planted along the cliff top. These plants are being protected and allowed to spread to restore the area to its former original condition, improving the health of the bay.

Esther Konings-Oakes, the district coordinator overseeing this songline station describes Moorpanyal Park as a place of contrast encapsulating the struggle between nature, industry and humanity. She feels a significant connection to the space, having been the coordinator and walking circle artist for Moorpanyal Park at Mountain to Mouth 2014. Esther is also a member of The North Shore Residents Group, the driving force of change dedicated to their vision of turning this industrial and neglected foreshore into a well-managed and cared for coastal reserve.

Moorpanyal Park  Image: Lois

Moorpanyal Park

Image: Lois

“Blowout” is a walking circle that re-imagines the lost industrial space using discarded fragments of everyday life. Walking circle artist Merinda Kelly invites participants to contribute their own obsolete objects and stories to create a totem of pop archeology to be mined by future generations. Students from Deakin University and workers from Ford Motor Company will be involved in constructing and activating the space, with sound and performance. The artwork also echoes the industrial history of its surroundings by using materials that were manufactured there and found objects in the natural environment of the area.

Merinda is a visual artist and lecturer at Deakin University. Her research interests include practices of collection, visual and material culture, and building creative communities. This songline station explores aspects of all of those interests in a way that explores the history and significance of Moorpanyal Park and its surrounding communities. “Blowout” considers the changing patterns of what is valued and discarded by humans throughout time and provokes us to wonder what our future world will look like. What do we value today that we will discard tomorrow? What will future generations think of the ways we live our lives? The walking circle explores this concept by allowing you to leave behind your own imprints in this reflective space and consider the debris created by the age of consumerism and the long term effects it could have. 

Submerged tire at Moorpanyal Park Beach  Photo by Merinda Kelly

Submerged tire at Moorpanyal Park Beach

Photo by Merinda Kelly

The Songline Station at Moorpanyal Park is open from 5:30pm-8:00pm and is the fourth station in the journey after a 4.8km walk from Limeburners Lagoon. Check out the timetable for more information. 

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

 

A shrine that connects arts, community and the environment

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 organise 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 3: LIMEBURNERS LAGOON. Matt Crawley is the District Coordinator of Station 3. He is a resident of the Bellarine who is passionate about community engagement and the environment, having worked on related projects for the past 20 years. Matt's role as a District Coordinator focuses on workshopping the vision of the artists, looking for tangible links to the station, the landscape, the history and the community, a process he finds inspiring, challenging and ultimately rewarding, once the community connects with the site and art installation.

Limeburners Lagoon is a wetlands site that is protected under one of the oldest of the modern global intergovernmental environmental agreements, Ramsar. The treaty was negotiated through the sixties and came into force in 1975 as a response to global concerns about the increasing loss and degradation of wetland habitats for migratory waterbirds. Wetlands are vital for human survival, being amongst the world's most productive environments as a cradle of biological diversity upon which countless species of plants and animals depend for survival. Yet study after study demonstrates that wetland areas continue to decline in most regions of the world, compromising the ecosystem services they provide. Simon Macaulay, the artist for the walking circle at this Songline Station, is using his installation to focus attention on the importance of respecting and protecting such sites.

Limeburners Lagoon  Photo by Lynden Smith

Limeburners Lagoon

Photo by Lynden Smith

MC2 at Geelong After Dark 2015

MC2 at Geelong After Dark 2015

MC3 Grass Shrine, builds upon a concept and art piece that was featured at Geelong After Dark 2015. The original work, MC2 was created in the form of a cube that you could enter to meditate on the importance of the native grass lands. MC3 takes the concept further by creating as many different ratios of the original cube to create a multi-sensory experience through projection, smoke, music and spoken word. A galaxy of cubes are ultimately created in a spiral formation reflecting the night sky and celestial motion around a still point. To assist with the production of the different cubes, Macaulay has enlisted the assistance of students at Geelong Grammar School as well as other community centres and residents. The project ultimately serves as a manifestation of a vital aspect of Mountain to Mouth; the bond between arts, community and the environment.

The station at Limeburners Lagoon will be open for two hours from 4:30pm and is a 6.3km walk from Lara RSL. Check out the timetable for more details.

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

Reconstruction and reflection at Lara RSL

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 organise 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 2: LARA RSL. The walking circle at Lara RSL is coordinated by Sue Hartigan, Manager of Cloverdale Community Centre, a non-profit organisation that delivers education, social and cultural programs to a diverse range of community members with varying English proficiency and learning abilities. Sue is passionate about maintaining a community that is inclusive and resilient, with a focus on cultural integration and opportunities for social participation, regardless of age, background or abilities.

Lara RSL  Photo by Sandra Brown

Lara RSL

Photo by Sandra Brown

The Lara RSL building was built in 1865 and is one of the oldest buildings still in use in the area. It has been the headquarters of Lara RSL since 1950.

Preliminary drawing of the concept

Preliminary drawing of the concept

“To The Four Winds”, the walking circle at this historic site is an installation of handmade pinwheels. Guiding the concept and construction of the installation is bricolage, an art style in which a work is created or constructed using a diverse range of things that happen to be available, such as found or discarded objects and materials. Bricolage extends in a philosophical context to the idea that all concepts are borrowed to a certain extent from our heritage, that every human act is in part a reflection of what preceded it.

The pinwheels in the installation are assembled from recycled materials and animated by the movement of air. Constructed from discarded classical album covers on a foundation of hardback books, the pinwheels are overprinted with text relating to the meaning of the word “Lara”. The installation combines the Mountain to Mouth 2016's theme of air with the concept of bricolage, both in the sense of literally using recycled materials as well as philosophically. The philosophical element echoes and plays homage to the historical significance of the site and the layers of memory that exist on the land, from the Wadawurrung balug, to the primitive Methodists, to the RSL and its historical collection.

“To The Four Winds” is constructed by David Dellafiora and Teresa Lawrence, both of whom currently work at Karingal Participate facilitating art activities. David is a cultural worker, teacher and conceptual artist who focuses on alternative art practices such as temporary public art, community collaborations and other practices outside the traditional gallery system. Teresa is a children's book illustrator who comes from a background of textile design and has participated in a range of shows in both print and painting. The songline station at Lara RSL will be open for two hours from 3pm and is the first stop after an (optional) 11.52km walk from the You Yangs. Check out the timetable for more details.

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


 

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.