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Defining Country: Dr Danièle Hromek

Danièle is a Saltwater woman of the Budawang tribe of the Yuin nation, with French and Czech heritage. Her research contributes an understanding of the Indigenous experience and comprehension of space and investigates how Aboriginal people occupy, use, narrate, sense, dream and contest their spaces. It rethinks the values that inform Aboriginal understandings of space through Indigenous spatial knowledge and cultural practice, and in doing so considers the sustainability of Indigenous cultures from a spatial perspective.

'Stingray' by Ray Thomas, GunaiKurnai artist

Mitchell River Silt Jetties East Gippsland

‘Country’ (capital C) has a different meaning to the western understanding of the word ‘country’ (small c). The western experience of land is one of property, an appropriated ground given a monetary value, a landscape that is tamed, built upon, produced, owned. In the Aboriginal sense of the word, Country relates to the nation or cultural group and land that they/we belong to, yearn for, find healing from and will return to.

However, Country means much more than land, it is their/our place of origin in cultural, spiritual and literal terms. It includes not only but also skies and waters. Country soars high into the atmosphere, deep into the planet crust and far into the oceans.

Country incorporates both the tangible and the intangible, for instance, all the knowledges and cultural practices associated with land. People are part of Country, and their/our identity is derived in a large way in relation to Country. Their/our belonging, nurturing and reciprocal relationships come through our connection to Country.

In this way Country is key to our health and well-being.

So caring for Country is not only caring for land, it is caring for themselves/ourselves (Hromek 2019). Country holds everything including spaces and places. Spaces and places, even those in urban centres, are thus full of Country, and therefore need appropriate cultural care to ensure healthy landscapes."

Den of Nargun East Gippsland Photo Jo Moulton

According to Gunaikurnai legend, an evil Nargun lives in the cave. The large creature - half human, half stone - took young children who wandered too far from their camp.

Cape Conran East Gippsland Photo: Jo Moulton

As a Bataluk Cultural Trail site Cape Conran is part of Krowathunkooloong Country where a shell midden denotes a special site or meeting place where people have gathered regularly for many generations to feast, celebrate and perform ceremonies.


Dr Danièle Hromek is a Cultural Scientist, a Researcher and Spatial Designer: Djinjama Indigenous Corporation

Ray Thomas GunaiKurnai Artist see blog @


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