Esther Konings-Oakes

Green Corridor Strategy kicks off!

Half of all tickets sold at Mountain to Mouth 2016 go towards funding a planting program of indigenous species along the 80km walk, called the Green Corridor strategy. It is a long term vision focused on connecting local communities and revegetation organisations together, in order to help revegetate local habitats and retain the regions natural beauty. 

Today the Mountain to Mouth team, Karingal Foundation, Parks Victoria and an entourage of over 40 volunteers successfully conducted the first major planting at Big Rock in the You Yangs, an important site for indigenous heritage, ecology and the starting point for the Extreme Arts walk. 

650 indigenous flora were planted over two sessions, helping the ecology of the You Yangs to get back on track. Matt Crawley, one of Mountain to Mouth 2016's district coordinators and part of the Bellarine Landcare Group,  said the area contained a lot of biodiversity but the ground-level plant life has become sparse due to pests like rabbits. 

The planting has seen 150 bidgee widgees, 50 snowy mint-bushes, 250 pots of kangaroos grass and 200 pots of basket grass reintroduced to the area, which will initiate a positive chain reaction for the local environment, including giving natural wildlife such as kangaroos the ideal plant life to graze on. 

Suzette Jackson is the Green Corridor coordinator, responsible for overseeing this very important aspect of the Mountain to Mouth project. She has been instrumental in numerous regional sustainability initiatives in the Geelong region and is a director of Innate Ecology. With a strong focus on sustainable living and healthy regions, she is excited to have initiated the project with such success and enthusiasm from partners and volunteers.

Suzette Jackson addressing the planting team. 

Suzette Jackson addressing the planting team. 

Tamara Karner, a team leader at Parks Victoria who is responsible for the You Yangs regional park, says they are ecstatic to have plant life reintroduced to the area after so many years without it. A rabbit-proof fence is being installed to ensure the new plants are not decimated by the pests. 

Esther Konings-Oakes, the district coordinator for the Songline Station at the You Yangs will coordinate volunteers to maintain the planting in the lead up to event. This team will also clear the ceremonial circle of noxious weeds and debris in time for Mountain to Mouth 2016's indigenous dance and welcoming ceremony, "Gathering of the Elders". She is in the process of organising regular days where volunteers get together to maintain this important and treasured environment. 

The upcoming installation of Mountain to Mouth walking maps and signage at a number of sites will encourage year-round walking of the Contemporary Songline.

 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.

 

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.