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Buc kingbong to Birrego: a walk of healing and hope

This special project involves a three-day walk from the Murrumbidgee River near Narrandera to a property in the Birrego district owned by the Strong family. The aims of the walk are: - To acknowledge and understand the local history of the Narrandera region; - To honour the capacities of land and people to produce food and fibre; and - To build cultural and ecological resilience. The walk begins on Buckingbong camping reserve. The reserve takes its name from one of the great Murrumbidgee pastoral stations. Buckingbong, established by the Jenkins family in the 1830s and 1840s, stretched from the Murrumbidgee River south to an area now called Birrego, where the Strong family reside. Just upstream from Buckingbong camping reserve, around the river bend, is a place officially named ‘Massacre Island’, and often referred to as ‘Murdering Island’. On this narrow island in the early 1840s, conflict between pastoralists and the local Wiradjuri people culminated in a horrific massacre of possibly hundreds of Wiradjuri men, women and children. Camping at various sites along the way, the walk will end at the Meridian Circle, a vast land artwork created in 2009 and framed by wide belts of saplings and shrubs. Since the early 1990s, the Strong family have planted hundreds of thousands of trees and shrubs and developed innovative methods of ecological farming that have brought their farmlands back to life. The Meridian Circle is a place of creativity, connection and regeneration, a fitting destination for a walk that begins near a site of atrocity and immense loss. 

Along the route of the walk, artists will present artworks, installations and performances made for each place. Talks will be given by local elders, farmers and community members to foster discussion about history, possible futures, and the inextricable ties between our bodies and the nourishing, productive terrains through which we walk.  This project explores contemporary arts practice through an engagement with land and its cultural, social and environmental histories, and is a partnership between The Cad Factory, The National Museum of Australia, local elders, Wiradjuri Condo Corp, local community members and artists. 

How to participate

There are several ways to participate in this project: 1) attend the entire event, from 12 -15 September and camp and walk with the group 2) attend one or all of each nights “Special Event” 3) come for a day time walk for all or part of the journey

There are no restrictions in how you participate in the walk. If you are interested in walking for 3 days, then you must register at and extra information will be sent to you.

More Details: Call: The Cad Factory on 0409 543 952

The Walking Route Campsite 1: Buckingbong Camping Reserve

Campsite 2: Buckingbong State Forest

Campsite 3: The Kurrajong Tree

Campsite 1: Buckingbong Camping Reserve, Murrumbidgee River

The Buckingbong camping reserve lies on the Murrumbidgee River, downstream from Buckingbong homestead. A short distance upstream, around a river bend, is Massacre Island, where in the early 1840s local squatters killed possibly hundreds of Wiradjuri men, women and children. The massacre represented the culmination of a violent struggle between Wiradjuri and squatters that began in the late 1830s.

Friday 12 September

Campers/Walkers can arrive any time during the day at the Buckingbong Camping Reserve. For people traveling by public transport from out of town, arrangements to shuttle you to the site will be made upon registration. 

5:30 - 7:30pm: Opening Special Event

Open to the public at Buckingbong Camping Reserve featuring talks by local elders about language revival, Wiradjuri history and the significance of this place. Weaving demonstrations given by the Hands On Weavers for participants to join in, live performances and conversation.Â

Campsite 2: Buckingbong State Forest

After pastoralists fought and won control over Wiradjuri country in the early 1840s, dramatic changes came to the land. Ancient methods of tending the land with fire and digging sticks came to an end. In response, a great forest of cypress pine and eucalypts emerged throughout the Riverina. Later in the nineteenth century, colonial officials reserved a large patch of the Buckingbong pastoral run as a timber reserve. Today, Buckingbong State Forest is surrounded by modern farmland.

Saturday 13 September

10am: Campers/Walkers packed up from Campsite 1 and ready to start the journey to Campsite 2 11am - 12:30pm: Walkers proceed leisurely to Poison Waterhole Creek for a short talk and discussion from a local Aboriginal leader 1:30pm - 2:30pm: Lunch 2:30pm - 5pm: Walk up Buckingbong Hill, then to Buckingbong State Forest to set up camp 7:30pm: Dinner Total Walking Distance: Approx 25kmÂ

6pm - 7pm: Special Event

Presentation of artwork and discussion open to the public

Campsite 3: The Kurrajong Tree

A venerable kurrajong tree, perhaps already an elderly plant in 1841 when the horrific event unfolded on Murdering Island, stands amid thriving saplings and shrubs planted by the Strong family in 2000. In the paddock adjacent to this sheltered campsite lies the Meridian Circle, a vast land artwork created in 2009.

Sunday 14 September

10am: Campers/Walkers packed up from Campsite 2 and ready to start the journey to Campsite 3 10am - 12:30: Walk 12:30pm: Lunch on the Oakvale ‘national park’ hilltop 2pm: Walk to ‘North Taylors’ dam to see Old Man Weed and to talk about The Paddock Report 4pm - 5pm: Walk to Campsite 3 and the Meridian Circle 7:30pm: Dinner Total Walking Distance: Approx 20km 

6pm - 7pm: Final Special Event

Presentation of artwork and discussion open to the public

Monday 15 September

Morning: Pack up camp and depart

About the Project Plans to undertake a walk from Buckingbong on the Murrumbidgee River to Birrego began to take shape in the middle of 2013, when George Main, a curator and environmental historian at the National Museum of Australia, suggested the idea to Graham Strong, a farmer in the Birrego district. The walk would contribute towards the development of The Paddock Report, a Museum project that explores the meanings and significance of global climate change by looking closely at a single paddock on one of the Strong family’s farms (see George first met Graham Strong and his family in 2001, when embarking on a major research project to document and understand the environmental history of the southwest slopes of New South Wales (see his book Heartland: The Regeneration of Rural Place). In 2010, George walked from Lake Cowal to Combaning, a research and writing adventure inspired by the ‘healing walks’ led by singer and poet Neil Murray in western Victoria, and by the ‘pilgrimage’ along the Merri Creek undertaken by environmental philosopher Freya Mathews (see her book Journey to the Source of the Merri). As did Neil Murray and Freya Mathews, George discovered that walking through country is a useful way to generate understandings about land and how we might nurture the productive terrains upon which we all depend. Graham and George started talking with Vic McEwan, Artistic Director at The Cad Factory, about the walk project. Vic saw how the involvement of artists and writers in the walk could enable understanding about the deep links between the past, present and future of the Narrandera and Birrego districts. Graham, George and Vic then consulted with Wiradjuri elders in Narrandera, Wagga Wagga and Leeton. The elders all approved of the project, and they provided valuable input and guidance. The Meridian Circle photographs taken by Eddie Lloyd, chopper flown by Grant Roberson. All other photographs taken by Vic McEwan.

Campsite 1: Special Event

What Lies Around the Bend ? A night of community celebration, story telling and performance

Hear Uncle Stan Grant talk about Wiradjuri language revivial Hear Uncle Jimmy Ingram talk about local histories Weaving demonstrations by the Hands On Weavers Try some traditional Johnny Cakes Watch performance, music, projections and more

Friday 12 September, 5:30pm - 7:30pm LOCATION DIRECTIONS

Buckingbong Camping Reserve 7km down Buckingbong Rd Narrandera, past the Fisheries

Campsite 2: Special Event A Site-Specific Installation by Lorraine Connelly Nor they and Jonathan Jones with Aunty Gail Clark

Working with local materials and stories Lorraine Connelly Northey and Jonathan Jones will reconstruct notions of gunya or home. This new work speaks to issues of Wiradjuri traditions and knowledge to recall a lived landscape while challenging Western ideas of nature. Aunty Gail Clark is a Wiradjuri elder in residence at Charles Sturt University, Lorraine Connelly Northey is a Waradgerie artist based in Albury and Jonathan Jones is a Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi artist based in Sydney. Both Lorraine Connelly Northey and Jonathan Jones have exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally.

Saturday 13 September LOCATION DIRECTIONS Meet at the corner of Strontian Rd & the entrance to Buckingbong State Forest, Sandigo (just past the Gap Rd) at 5pm for a 5:15pm departure to the installation location. Viewing and conversation from 6pm - 7pm. Please bring a torch.

Campsite 3: Special Event

The Meridian Circle Performance

Land Art, Music and Conversation

Join Graham Strong, Steve Harradine and Vic McEwan at the Meridian Circle, a huge land art site constructed in 2009 in a Birrego paddock. Hear why the Meridian Circle was constructed and the process involved in making it. Walk the Meridian Circle and experience music made by guitar and fence.


Meet at the corner of Strontian & Boundary Rd, Boree Creek at 5pm for a 5:15pm departure to the performance location. Performance from 6pm - 7pm. Please bring a torch.

Buckingbong to Birrego  
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