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Lurujarri Dreaming Trail, Western Australia.

  • Location: Broome, WA
  • Distance: 80 kilometres
  • Time: 9 days
  • Terrain: Beach / Path
  • Traditional Custodians: Goolarabooloo Country

The Lurujarri Dreaming Trail is an invitation to behold the land, culture and laws of the Goolarabooloo people across beaches, dunes and bush.

The Lurujarri Dreaming Trail follows the traditional Song Cycle of the Goolarabooloo people for 80 kilometres along the beaches, dune systems and red sand bush. The trail invites participants to walk the stunning and seemingly endless beaches north of Broome, accompanied by community members telling the stories of the landscape on the journey.

Established by senior Elder Paddy Roe, the trail was initiated as a way to ensure that the Goolarabooloo community were able to continue walking Country – in doing so, ensuring connection, renewal and preservation of culture and heritage through the practice of traditional skills. Paddy also sought a dialogue with non-Aboriginal people through the Lurujarri Dreaming Trail – a dialogue based on, and fostered through, trust, empathy, friendship and an understanding of our shared relationship with land. Current trail leader, General Manager of Goolarabooloo Corporation and Paddy’s great-grandson, Daniel Roe continues that tradition with his trail team of community members and volunteers. Central to this is the gentle exchange of knowledge – most importantly across generations – to ensure that knowledge is not lost but is exchanged through Country. This exchange happens through conversation and interaction with the community but also through the act of walking itself; one enters into a daily routine and rhythm based on the trail, purposefully slowing down and giving oneself over to the landscape.

The Goolarabooloo community have led the Lurujarri Dreaming Trail along the WA Kimberley coast north of Broome since 1987. The landscape of the trail – the Song Cycle – is experienced primarily in its relationship to the enormity of the Indian Ocean that one walks adjacent to. It is a landscape of absolute awe; white sand, red cliffs and intense blue sky and ocean variously punctuated by creeks, dune scrub, mudflats, open grassy country and rivulets.

Beach walking is interspersed with excursions though the dune systems and camps in the low bush in the lee of the dunes. It is land that has been home to Aboriginal people for millennia – the same trail, the same camping places, the same fishing spots. Middens filled with remnants of past food and artefacts including spear heads, charcoal, flints and grinding stones are testament to the longevity and continuity of Law and Culture.

The trail is walked in the dry season – July to August – in the season of Barrgana, one of six seasons of the Goolarabooloo and the time when the dugong are fat. Barrgana is often dry but can also be the season of Mujung or ‘knock-em-down rain’ which falls heavily enough to flatten grass but not with enough volume to fill waterholes.

Walking the Lurujarri Trail with Daniel and his mob, water is ubiquitous …

– whether avoiding the tides as one traverses the endless beach, negotiating rock pools in pursuit of the perfect fishing spot, slopping through mangrove mud after mud crabs or seeking to overcome the perpetual thirst generated by walking in a subtropical climate (albeit wintertime). One gradually learns that water exists in many forms, each of which has a specific function in Goolarabooloo life; offering up particular food sources, quenching thirst, sustaining life in different ways but all dependent on seasonality and particularities of place.

As the walk progresses, the landscape yields its stories as one becomes more attuned to Country. One becomes aware of the connection to a far greater reality – the Bugarregarre (the Dreamtime) – through which ancestors are animated, creation stories are realised and law is encoded in the Song Cycle. Dinosaur footprints 130,000,000 years old and cast in sedimentary rock on the shoreline correlate with Goolarabooloo creation stories of humanity emerging from the water to become terrestrial. Bugarregarre confirms scientific stories on Trail, landscape becomes Country through the Song Cycle as one becomes more familiar with the interrelatedness of the present, the (deep) past and the future.

Huts to hunker down in overnight are dotted across these trails. Each contained a well-leafed logbook; our favourite As Country gradually unfolds through these stories, listening and walking allow a gradual reading of place as one becomes aware of the very subtle nuances of the interconnectedness which constitutes this – one moves beyond the landscape and into a relationship with Country. The trail affords the opportunity to accept great-grandfather Paddy Roe’s beautiful invitation: “You people try and dig little bit more deep – you been digging only white soil – try and find the black soil inside …” – Benterrak, K, Muecke, S & Roe, P. Reading the Country: Introduction to Nomadology.

Acknowledgement of Country

Wherever and whenever we walk, we acknowledge and pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Custodians and Owners of the land.