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Yumbalay Travel Update and the Pandemic of Disconnection - By Pearl Andrews

August 06, 2021

Yumbalay Travel Update and the Pandemic of Disconnection - By Pearl Andrews

Jingi Wallah from the lands of the Baiyungu, Thalaynji and Yinikurita people. 

Nearly 6 months ago we left our home on Bundjalung Country to learn and grow and explore around Australia. Now, in Exmouth on the opposite side of the country, our experiences and perspectives have grown and changed dramatically. We have felt isolated, scared, exhausted, excited, euphoric and more knowledgeable and capable each day. We have crossed the Nullarbor from SA to WA, struggled through many weeks of icy winter air and persistent rain, and finally up the magnificent (and massive) coast of WA to this beautiful location on Ningaloo Reef. 

In February this year when we began our journey, I had a dream of learning and practicing more sustainable ways of living and thinking. Whilst we have done things such as buy food from local markets and bulk food shops, eat fresh from the ocean and reduce our waste, one of the most important things I have learned is a bigger concept of respectful relationships. 

As human beings, we share a yearning for connection, belonging and for respect. But many fundamental qualities of interconnectedness and reciprocity have been lost and to some extent forgotten in our westernised world that focuses on individualism, consumerism and perpetual growth at the sake of the Earth’s resources. We currently face not only a climate crisis but a pandemic of disconnection. A plague that distances human people from animal people and plant people. We no longer recognise the many lives around us every day and we no longer offer them the acknowledgement, respect and love that they need to thrive (which WE need to survive). As Robin Kimmerer articulated in her book Braiding Sweetgrass, reciprocity is honouring the gifts of water, trees, rocks, plants, animals and the many more-than-human lives that gift us food, shelter and joy. And in that honouring, return their gifts with respect, ceremony, gratitude and land stewardship so that they too feel joy. 

“We need acts of restoration, not only for polluted  waters and degraded lands, but also for our relationship to the world. We need to restore honour to the way we live, so that when we walk through the world we don’t have to avert our eyes with shame, so that we can hold our heads up high and receive the respectful acknowledgement of the rest of the Earth’s beings.” Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass 

While we heal our relationship to the world, our communities and individual selves, the land will restore herself. A mutual flourishing of land and people where a fractured world becomes whole and balanced once again. While we familiarise ourselves with the life that surrounds us and learn how to speak their language, land and people (people as humans AND all other life) heal together. 

I have a long way to go in terms of learning their names, ways and languages. But I am starting with prayer, deep listening and mindfulness. Restoring respect and honour so that when I walk upon Country I acknowledge the sacred purpose of each life, I give them my gratitude and in turn feel their protection. 

“Restoring land without restoring relationship is an empty exercise. It is relationship that will endure and that will sustain the restored land. Therefore, reconnecting people and landscape is as essential as re establishing proper hydrology or cleaning up contaminants. It is medicine for the earth.” 

I yearn to know and love a garden, to learn from them and to speak to them. I yearn to walk through a forest and recognise beings much older and wiser than myself and soak in their wisdom. 

A returning to self, community and land is what will heal our many pandemics. Restoring relationship, honour, respect, prayer, ceremony and belonging. Coming Home. 

I am eternally grateful for this is experience of travelling on Country and learning from each special place. While I miss home and all it holds very much I am trying to focus on each moment and the wonder to be found there. 

Much love to everybody. 

Buglebeh for reading my thoughts and reflections. 



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