Dharawal Dreaming is a music production of 60 minutes duration, that incorporates storytelling and dance. Dharawal Dreaming is based on Dharawal Aboriginal creation stories, and is created and performed by the music trio "Waratah" in collaboration with Dharawal performers Matthew Doyle, Deborah Lennis and Frances Bodkin. The project celebrates Australian contemporary music, indigenous music & stories, and native flora. Although an unlikely combination, these topics are linked through the fulcrum of Dharawal culture.
Dharawal Dreaming focuses on two related stories, and treats them sequentially - Miwa Gawaian ("How the White Waratah Came to Be") and Miwa Gawaian and Waratah ("How the White Waratah Became Red").
Miwa Gawaian tells how the Spirit Woman Korrobori came to Earth from the sky, and created the world as a place to rest during her travels. She created trees and plants, to provide food, beauty and shelter. Then she created two sisters to look after the world she had crafted. She named the sisters Wurrata, the Beautiful One, and Wiridjiribin, the Rememberer. Korrobori showed the sisters all around the world she had made, and taught then which plants they could use for food, medicine, and other things.
When the time cam for Korrobori to return home, the sisters were sad, and begged her not to leave. Korrobori took her magic staff and planted it into the ground, where it turned into a beautiful white flower. She named it Miwa Gawaian, although this flower is now known as the White Waratah. Korrobori told the sisters that if they needed her, they could always talk to her through the Miwa Gawaian. She would hear them and come to help them.
Wurrata and Wiridjiribin were the ancestors of the Dharawal people. For many generations, only women named Wurrata were given the special task of tending the Miwa Gawaian, the gift of Korrobori.
Miwa Gawaian and Waratah tells of a time many generations later, when a particularly beautiful young woman named Wurrata was given the task of tending the Miwa Gawaian. Many young men of the Dharawal clans fall in love with Wurrata, but she wanted only to do her duty to Miwa Gawaian. Mananga, a great and powerful warrior, also fell in love with Wurrata, and wanted her for his wife, regardless of her duties to Miwa Gawaian.
Mananga tried many things, including magic, to make Wurrata fall in love with him, but it did not work. Finally Mananga threatened that if Wurrata refused to go with him, he would destroy the Miwa Gawaian. As he swung his axe at the flower, Wurrata threw herself in the way, to protect the Miwa Gawaian. Managa's axe struck Wurrata instead. Mananga had killed the woman he loved.
Seeing through the Miwa Gawaian, Korrobori saw everything that happened and grieved for Wurrata. She turned Wurrata's spirit into a honey bee, so that she will always be able to look after the flower. And to honour the bravery of Wurrata, she decreed that from that time on, all the children of the white flower will be born red, the colour of Wurrata's blood.
Masthead photo (Waratah) by Peter Sams. Courtesy of the Australian 2005 Aichi Expo Unit