Published in Overland Issue 231 Winter 2018 · Uncategorized from ‘People of the River: 1. Deerubban’ Brenda Saunders The lighthouse turns, blinks a steady eye, warns of steep hills, unknown shores, channels moving with the tide. No one knows how deep it is Daylight draws in the far-off headland as I cross still water, drag my skiff to a beach, deserted now Stories rise from these drowned valleys fold into pockets of rainforest, left untamed Families camped here, fished from bark canoes Built stone traps to catch the prized garuma coming in to feed on sea grasses. Smoke from their fires would drift upriver, signal a welcome, for clans to come, join the feast Footfalls mark their winding journeys, each path a trace left from earlier times. Generations of the Kuringal walking gently on their land I step in footholds cut in sheer rock, climb high above the beach to a cave bleached by wind and brine, a look-out shelter open to the sky Handprints span a ledge of pristine rock, calara piled on the dusty floor, a sure sign of feasting A dry camp for tribes passing through Tools lie exposed, forgotten on a rock platform scattered flints, grinding stones discarded as if left only yesterday by a group disturbed Cries from the look-out. White clouds floating up river. Ghost strangers come to offer exchange Change by gunfire along their River Country Deerubban: Hawkesbury River garuma: blackfish the Kuringal (tribe) : People of the River calara: large mussel from the river River Country: Hawkesbury River Image: Deerubban/Hawkesbury River (by Jason Armstrong) Read the rest of Overland 231 If you enjoyed this poem, buy the issue Or subscribe and receive four outstanding issues for a year Brenda Saunders Brenda Saunders is a poet and visual artist of Aboriginal and British descent. She has published three collections of poetry and her work has appeared in major anthologies and journals, including Australian Poetry Journal, Overland, Southerly, and Best Australian Poems in 2013 and 2015 (Black Inc). She has received numerous prizes including the Mick Dark Varuna Environmental Writers’ Fellowship, the Banjo Patterson Poetry Prize, and was a finalist in the prestigious Aesthetica Prize (UK) and the International Vice-Chancellors Poetry Prize (University of Canberra). She is a member of DiVerse Poets who write and perform their ekphrastic poetry in Sydney art galleries. More by Brenda Saunders › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 1 December 20231 December 2023 · History ‘We’re doing everything but treaty’: Law reform and sovereign refusal in the colonial debtscape Maria Giannacopoulos I coined the concept of the colonial debtscape while working to understand the relation between debt and sovereignty in the wake of the 2007 Global Financial crisis. Despite the referendum held in Greece in 2015 where the people voted against austerity, austerity as punishment, was imposed anyway. As this was a colonising move, that is, the imposition of an external and foreign law on local populations against their will, it was to Aboriginal scholars here that I turned to begin to put the pieces together. First published in Overland Issue 228 30 November 202330 November 2023 · Urbanism The Plains exposes the psychic terrain of Victoria’s highways Fred Pryce The Plains charts the psychic terrain of the freeway in miniature, peeling back the lid of the private vehicle to expose just one of the millions of dramas taking place in simultaneity, severed from one another yet still part of the same city-wide traffic ballet.