Maya Ward’s story of walking from the mouth to the source of the Yarra River in Victoria, Australia (The Comfort of Water – a River Pilgrimage, Transit Lounge Publishing, Yarraville, Australia) was published in 2011. Maya Ward says, ‘There were many reasons to start where the river meets the sea. We knew where the sea was, but we didn’t know the location of the source, so we needed to follow the Yarra to find it. We’d start from where we live and what we knew to walk into the unknown.’
This was a continuous walk over three weeks made with a changing collection of friends, backed by a support crew, and with an assortment of accommodation pre-arranged for the end of the each day. Maya Ward undertook preparation prior to departure to the extent most of the landowners along the length of the River were contacted for permission to walk across their land.
The two main themes of the walk, and therefore the book, were the environment and indigenous practices and history (Birrarung in the Wurundjeri language). Intertwined, were the author’s personal reflections and philosophy as well as some of her life story in which she seemed devoted to cultural and ecological political activism at a community level.
From time to time, the author offered simple ideas which I found very attractive. For example, ‘I liked the wind – it stopped us talking.’ … ‘A story is like the wind – it comes from a far off place, and we feel for it. So says the Kalahari Bushmen …’, ‘Grandma knew, I think, of the comfort and the intimacy to be found among trees.’, and ‘The watching is just the start of something.’
I am pleased to have discovered this book because Maya Ward’s approach has made me consider that the history of Tasmanian indigenous peoples has not been evident in my posts during my walk along the Derwent River. In fact, I have been remarkably ignorant of the nature and practices of the original inhabitants prior to European settlement on the edge of Tasmania’s Derwent River in 1803. I am now interested to know more and it occurs to me that blog readers might also be curious. To rectify this gap in my knowledge, I have set myself a new project (I do like projects) to find out if I can discover information relevant to the Derwent River that is reliable and authentic.