The Comfort of Water – a River Pilgrimage

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.’

The Comfort of Water book cover

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.

2 thoughts on “The Comfort of Water – a River Pilgrimage

    1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

      Of course I can overreach myself with ideas. At the moment there are three books swirling in my head; one which is a ‘how-to-do-it- anywhere along the River using public transport, another is the story of my journey (as yet I haven’t been able to focus on a few themes to draw that together, but hey I have lots of time to work that out),and the third might be the story of Tasmania’s indigenous population minus the massacres and interventions of Europeans. Ahh I dream. And the dreams keep me going.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

Please leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s