Celebrations were a plenty at Lake Eyre South on July 21st when Arubunna traditional custodians joined hands with representatives from the West Papuan community in a sacred water ceremony at Blanch Cup Mound Spring in South Australia.
This event is part of the Freedom Flotilla West Papua, a peaceful land and sea convoy from Lake Eyre to West Papua to raise community awareness on environmental and human rights issues.
Waters from the mound springs will be carried on the journey and presented to West Papuan elders by Arubunna Elder Uncle Kevin Buzzacott. Communities within West Papua are already planning a warm welcome for the flotilla.
West Papuan spokesperson Ronny Kareni was thrilled with how the first steps of this historic journey unfolded.
‘The ceremony was unique in the way we connected with country and in the exchange of sacred waters that have flowed from near our home lands in the far away north”, said Mr Kareni.
Decades of mining and water extraction from the Lake Eyre Basin has impacted on sacred mound springs by reducing water flow to these ancient sites. Current mining leases at Roxby Downs allows 43 ML (megalitres) of water to be drawn from the aquifer every day.
“It is important to remember that we are one people, regardless of skin colour, creed or religion. Our journey follows the footsteps of our forefathers and aims to strengthen family links between all people”, added Mr Kareni.
The ceremony attracted around 40 people from across Australia and the world and many people present will travel the entire way to West Papua.
From Lake Eyre, the convoy heads to Broken Hill, Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns and will be hosting public celebrations and school visits along the way.
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