Year 10 students are on a First Nations walking tour with Dean Stewart, Wartha Worrung man in Melbourne's CBD. They have stopped on grass to listen to Dean.

First Nations Walking Tour – Student reflection

As part of the Year 10 Derech (leadership) program, the Truth Telling and Reconciliation group were lucky enough to go on a First Nations walking tour with Dean Stewart, Wartha Worrung man in Melbourne’s CBD. Our tour began at Enterprize Park, crossed over Queens bridge and ended next to the Flinders Station Footbridge. Though in distance we did not travel not far, the tour traversed history in such depth and vibrancy that it felt our ending place was worlds away from where we began.

Aided by a wide array of powerful images, Dean took us on a journey explaining the relevance and history of the Yarra river and land surrounding it, and highlighted how the arrival of colonists affected it and its inhabitants. It was so impactful to see how much the landscape has changed in the last 200 years and understand our impact. In particular, we spoke about a waterfall that used to cross the river, providing a division of the salt and freshwaters and a natural crossing. I was especially struck by the story of the rocks, older than human life, that made up the divide, being blown away with dynamite so that a bridge could be built. These rocks that existed for millennia of years, were destroyed in seconds. This was a focus of Dean’s tour – connection to the damage to land as well as to culture. Dean said, “Reconciliation is not just between black and white, but a Reconciliation between us, as a people, with the Land”.

Throughout the tour Dean provided us with a way to connect to the land that we now call home, and urged us to reflect more often in our daily lives. The walk brought a lot of relevant and important information to assist in our planning of Reconciliation Week at school as well as a completely new perspective on land, country and culture with which to take into our lives and futures.

Kiera, Year 10