Uncovering Our Country’s Ancient Mysteries

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Jacinta Warland - Recipient of the Over 50's Women's Adventure Grant

Jacinta Warland – Recipient of the Over 50’s Women’s Adventure Grant

I hope that by engaging respectfully with Traditional Owners, and capturing their lost world of spirit and place, I can provide an opportunity for others, especially young Indigenous people, to deepening their understanding of the cultural places, enshrining the longevity of ancestral peoples.
— Jacinta Warland

When we saw Jacinta’s application, and read that she was an archeologist, we’d be lying if we didn’t have a little Indiana Jones moment. As we read on we were impressed with her passion, not only for her job as an archeologist but her passion to capture the amazing evidence of some of the last of the remaining Aboriginal sites across North Queensland. Meet the recipient of the Over 50’s Category for the Women’s Adventure Grant – Jacinta Warland.

Tell us a little bit about your project

My adventure is to capture the amazing evidence of some of the last of the remaining Aboriginal sites across North Queensland. As an archaeologist, I have been privileged to access cultural landscapes that are completely isolated and along with my world-renowned Aboriginal Photographer, Dan Macintosh, who has guided me, and will assist in the photography of the sites, using his innate knowledge and capacity as a traditional  man, to ensure the content the visual appeal has depth and respects the sites appropriately.

Each site is unique in its own right, having survived the erosion of time, resistance and settlement, and it is essential for our shared cultural histories to be recorded. I see it as a step towards providing a bridge of understanding and a way to empower young people who have not had access. This may help value the oldest living culture to capture and respectfully share these mostly hidden and pristine places. My vision is to foster both Historical and Aboriginal cultural sectors that afford all of us greater opportunities to participate in, share and strengthen our cultural identity through re-connection to the past. My adventure will highlight the use of traditional protocols, observance of permissions and enshrining of the respect and understanding of the value the Elders put on their cultural heritage. I will seek the help of historians, landholders and Aboriginal communities to capture the essence of the traditional spaces and place it in a book that will give respect to, and possibly improve the standing of Aboriginal Peoples marginalised by the spectre of cultural disconnection from their traditional homelands and cultural spaces. 
This book may also help bring together some of the communities currently struggling against the expectations of moving off country to survive. Some sites have been lost to the Traditional Owners through removal from country, and we may be able to reconnect them through this endeavour. I have been approached by several groups here in North Queensland who have asked to be involved, and I will gain their written approval if this is supported.

What is your inspiration behind the project?

My hope is that the book will open the discussion for everyday Australians to ask about their local Indigenous histories and places, and raise the value of what we still have. There is little known or shared of the hidden histories and sacred sites around our country. I want to show the grandeur and the splendour that is so tangible in the significant sacred sites we still have left.

How do you hope that you will inspire others through your project?

I hold onto the hope that at every place, regardless of where it is, we will directly inspire the Aboriginal custodians and their families, and also encourage respect and greater valuing of the sites by locals, residents, and tourists who may be invited to see them for themselves.

Why do you believe it is important for women to be represented in adventurous pursuits? 

The concept of men only adventures is definitely outdated. Provided I am reasonably healthy, fit enough to walk a few miles each day and can enjoy a night or ten roughing it, the idea of going to places not on the beaten track really intrigues me. I have been inspired by my parents especially my mother, who showed me life was to be lived fully, trying new things and not worrying about the possibility of failing. Planning and persistence, and of course a love of the outdoors and getting to go to places not many had seen was the driver for them, always ensuring their three young children had adventures and a life well lived.

Who are some of your heroes when it comes to adventure?

My parents, who still travel widely. The girls who go for trips with a backpack and their camera…just to go there….they inspire me! Women who fiercely take on the role of working alongside their partners, on the farms and properties around Australia. They exist still and inspire me every day.

For me, an adventure can be in anything that takes some effort, takes us away from the couch, but has great reward. In my work, I am privileged to see women keeping cultural practice alive. This for them is an adventure, especially when we see young women following their grandmothers’ spirit and being positive examples to their communities, by awakening the spiritual strength in cultural practices, creating the inspiration for women to follow their dreaming. Being ‘on country’ with these ladies is truly amazing.

What are your favourite words to live by?

“Do what you love, then you will love what you do”.

Finish this sentence. I never go on an adventure without …

My camera, a sketch book and some clean underwear. (Can I say that now I am older?)

What is your once piece of advice to women who might be new to the concept of adventure?

Don’t let other people’s perception of you limit your journey, they are not in your body, they can’t see your dreams, nor do they know your strengths. Move, explore, try new foods, accept new friends, and travel, love, and live for yourself, and when you are ready, be there for others.  Your adventures will keep them inspired in themselves.

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