Tag Archives: Quandamooka

Matthew Burns, Quandamooka Traditional Owner, Talks About Culture, History and Quandamooka Way of Life on Minjerribah



Using the objects and artefacts he’d brought with him, Matt Burns, Traditional Owner, spoke to us at length about Quandamooka culture on the island. The Quandamooka presence on Stradbroke Island has been carbon-dated to have begun over twenty thousand years ago.



The mix on Matt’s table is so great – everything from a shield, a coolamon, a nulla nulla, boomerangs, grass skirt, dugong tusks (and a miniature Torres Strait Island drum carved from a dugong tusk with a snakeskin top), dugong oil, fishing gear, and fire making gear.



Every year at Lines, he brings new ideas, information and objects to talk about. Basically, he says, his job is to educate white people about his heritage.

He described the scarification practices of the Quandamooka – with men having nineteen scars across their chest to mark them and 2 ‘wings’ – scarification lines – on their back and 2 lines on their legs, under their knees – if they were fully-initiated warriors. “This was attractive to the women.”



Grass skirts were worn by both women and men. The dugong tusks were used for trade. The miniature Torres Strait Island drum is carved from dugong tusk into the shape of the traditional Torres Strait Island drum, and would function as an amulet or perhaps a toy.



Matt plays the didgeridoo, which hails from Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, not Queensland. White ants hollow out the eucalypt branch and beeswax is applied to the mouth end to form a seal. For readers outside of Australia, the didgeridoo has been adopted here as a national musical instrument, maybe not unlike the guitar in Spain, or the harp in Ireland. The sound of the didge goes right into you with its airy, deep, throaty vibration.



Matt looks on while two strapping lads try their hand at traditional methods of fire making.






Matt steps in.



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And the smoke starts to build.


And build.


A bit of breath to coax the flame.


Swinging the coir to ignite with lots of oxygen.




And there’s the fire.






With lots of follow-up questions afterwards. Matt is really generous with his information and time and the crowd eats it up.


Lines in the Sand 2014 — Hot Island — Nature’s Deep Intelligence

2014-06-24 15.11.32Leaving the mainland for North Stradbroke Island and Lines in the Sand 2014



Always a welcome change of energies, boarding the Big Red Cat for the ride across the bay to Straddie.

If I’ve been super caught up in the day-to-day stuff back at home, the transformation from ‘head down and get the job done’ to ‘ahhhh I know I’m going to have an incredible, beautiful, eye-filling immersion in Straddie’s natural awesomeness’ can seem more or less possible — but I’m deep down sure I’ll be reconnecting to nature.


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Beautiful wintry sky – Island approaches


That’s what’s so important about Straddie – and why everyone ‘deep down’ has come to rely on this special place as a source of truth. A bumper sticker I saw coming over proclaimed something like “Stradbroke – Drama Island 2014” and I couldn’t say it better myself: January’s fires lasted over two weeks and ravaged over 16,200 hectares of land; there’s continued political wrangling over mining company Sibelco’s influence in the 2012 election; and Native Title holders’ ongoing efforts to maintain the strength of their hard won legal status (granted in 2011) all combine to make North Stradbroke Island a proving ground for environmental, social and cultural issues in Australia and around the globe.

Make no mistake about it — what happens here has great implications everywhere.


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Quick shot from the car window – Signs of fire and regrowth since January



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Nothing like a gum tree for awakening that sense of Nature’s deep intelligence.


I’m here because I wouldn’t miss Lines for the world, and also because of a generous grant from the Redland City Council. They’re very supportive of Lines in the Sand.

And for good reason — Lines offers a meeting of Settler and Indigenous cultures through creativity, conversation, expert information on topics like caring for country – traditional Quandamooka ways, as well as contemporary Scientific ways – and authentic gratitude for the opportunity to share this incredible place with its Traditional Owners.

Artists in residence work in the landscape along the Gorge Walk to form a dialogue with the land and with all who come to see and experience their ephemeral environmental art. Workshops offer families time to be in Nature and share the experience together.

Please click the “Follow” button at the end of the post if you’d like to be kept up to date with all that’s happening here starting today and through the weekend. Lot’s to come!

Check out the Lines in the Sand 2014 festival website for general and program info – http://www.linesinthesand.com.au/

And the festival’s facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lines-in-the-Sand-North-Stradbroke-Island-LTD/348402065192385







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