Title: Walk With Us: Welcome to Our Country
Authors: Adam Goodes and Ellie Laing
Illustrator: David Hardy
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Publication date: October 31, 2023
RRP: $24.99 (AUD)
Teaching resource: A comprehensive teaching resource is available to download from Allen and Unwin.
Walk With Us is the fourth book in the Welcome to Our Country series by Adam Goodes, an Adnyamathanha and Narungga man together with Ellie Laing, a former journalist, illustrated by David Hardy, a Barkindji man and published by Allen and Unwin. This story is inspired by a phrase in the final line of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which states: “We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future”. This is an important story that invites readers to learn about and from the Traditional Custodians of their local area. This knowledge leads to an appreciation and respect for Country and also results in the benefits of tranquillity and awakening of the senses when connecting to Country. It shares a beautiful message about experiencing Country through the lens of the oldest known civilisation on earth. The first book in this Welcome to Our Country series is Somebody’s Land, the second, Ceremony and the third is Back on Country.
In this story, a young boy, Harvey, shares with his Mum the Acknowledgement of Country and these words cause her to reflect. This spurs the Mum on to learn from the Cammeraygal people, the Traditional Custodians of the land where they live. To do this Harvey and his Mum go to their favourite park. Here they meet Uncle Boris, an Aboriginal Elder who leads a group on a walk on Country.
This walk is a feast for the senses as the sights, sounds, smells and tactile experiences ignite a rich sensory journey for Harvey and his Mum. Uncle Boris begins by telling the group it’s time to “awaken the ancestors” and demonstrates how this is done. He then shares knowledge about traditional uses for the lemon myrtle tree and introduces the traditional language of the Cammeraygal people (North Sydney) when he explains they call it tologurã. As they continue walking, Uncle Boris shares more knowledge about Aboriginal history, culture and language. Uncle Boris teaches the group about plants which are safe to eat and where animals may be living. Everywhere they look is an opportunity to share knowledge and wisdom that has been passed through thousands of generations. A burnt section of bush is another stimulus for Uncle Boris to share the fire practices of First Nations peoples to manage the land.
David’s lively illustrations deftly capture the joy, awe and wonder the group feel as they connect to Country. A QR code is included at the beginning and end of the book to listen to a reading of the story. The endpapers feature illustrations of the plants, animals, places and words that feature throughout the story that were expressed in Cammeraygal language; they serve as a visual glossary and also include the words written in English.
This is a vitally important story that makes learning about the history and culture of Aboriginal peoples not only highly engaging, but also accessible for younger readers (and adults too). It is a story that inspires readers to connect with Country through the lens of understanding its long and rich history.