Welcome to Country by Aunty Joy Murphy
Published by Black Dog Books
Through my work as an event manager of all things, I have noticed a culture-change taking place. One in which it is now becoming more commonplace to have events and other auspicious occasions marked by a ‘Welcome to Country’ introduction from the traditional owners of the land.
It is a mark of respect that is long overdue for the Aboriginal people, and as a society that values the lessons it teaches its children, Aunty Joy Murphy’s Welcome to Country, provides an important message for early primary readers.
Following in the long tradition of dreamtime storybooks for children, Aunty Joy takes her storytelling to the next level, by educating them in the Welcome rights of the Wurundjeri People of Melbourne and surrounds. Her story is not just figurative, it is literal, and asks for visitors to the land to respect the culture, traditions and natural environment of the people therein. Hers is not a message of territorialism and ownership but an explanation of the gifts that have been passed down to those on traditional lands by the creator spirit, Bunjil the eagle. All that he and the elders ask, is that we acknowledge, respect and preserve the bountiful lands that have been passed down to us.
The beautiful message that shines through in Aunty Joy’s first picture book is complemented by a set of rich and evocative illustrations by Lisa Kennedy, a descendant of the Trawlwoolway People, with close ties to The Maribyrnong River in Melbourne. Kennedy’s artwork is detailed, in keeping with Aboriginal stylism, and maximises the use of colour to create a rich tapestry that depicts the gifts of a plentiful land.
This is an important book for young readers and a boon for educators who are seeking to find really strong examples of Aboriginal culture and tradition. The beauty of the imagery only serves to enhance the gravitas of Aunty Joy’s Welcome to Country message.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author: Aunty Joy Murphy
Illustrator: Lisa Kennedy
Title: Welcome to Country
Publisher: Black Dog Books
Published: August 2016