For thousands of years First Nations Peoples danced on Country creating a web of songs, dances and stories of First Nations culture and identity.

On December 1, 2019, for the first time in history, mob from across the nation danced in unison at the same time, dancing for Country, for ancestors and for healing.

The respectful ceremony of dancing on Country honours the people and nation of the land and brings healing to self and Country.

For the first time in over 150 years, Corroboree took place on Gundungurra Country.

On Cecil Hoskins Nature Reserve in Moss Vale, NSW men and women painted up and joined together to dance.

Gundungurra Elder Aunty Trish Levett was a driving force behind the Gundungurra Nation Dance and was incredibly moved by the love shown for ceremony, dancing in the Corrobore herself.

“I am still on a massive high, I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster today. I’ve had lots of tears but happy tears seeing all our mob come together as one,” she said.

“It’s been 159 years here on Country, on Gundungurra Country, since we have had Corroboree. So, to dance Corroboree where our ancestors danced 159 years ago is mind-blowing.”

“To this place here, it was about waking up our Mother Earth here on Gundungurra Country. It’s about dancing for our ancestors who have already danced here, and about dancing for our children, dancing our trauma out that we’ve carried for so long. It’s part of our healing journey as well to take that step forward with all of our mob.”

Aunty Trish worked with Melissa Wiya, Aboriginal Community Development Officer at Wingecarribee Shire Council to organise the event.

“All we’ve had is two weeks, Melissa … has also been my backbone in helping me get it organised,” Aunty Trish said.

Aunty Trish said she could feel the power of people dancing across the nation.

“It’s so powerful, we can feel that as Aboriginal people and First Nations Peoples, we can feel that energy coming from all over.”

Along with mob, the dancing saw the support of non-Aboriginal community members, who came in numbers to be part of the celebration.

“To be honest, I burst into tears, as I was watching all the dancers that kept coming and coming and coming – it blew me away,” Aunty Trish said.

“I hope they leave with having learnt a little bit about our culture, but also realising that we all need to work together and walk together as one people … Walk with us as one.”

The first Corroboree in 159 years, Aunty Trish will now organise dancing on Gundungurra Country every year.

“This is going to be an annual event, I’ve spoken to my Elder Aunty Sharon who is here today, and this is just the beginning for us up here,” Aunty Trish said.

By Rachael Knowles