Single-channel audio file, 4:33, 

Tool-box, bitumen, Mangrove mud from Tinchi Tamba Wetlands, clay from rivers and creeks on Jinibara Country 

As a descendant of the Ngugi People of Mulgumpin (Moreton Island), Libby Harward has listened to the stories told by her ancestors about the creation of the Quandamooka (Moreton Bay). In one story, Kabul (the Carpet Snake) and Dumgo (the Red-Bellied Black Snake) paddled their tiny canoe through the strong current, in time of flood, from the place of Tinchi (the Ibis) and Tamba (the Mangroves) to their landing place on Mulgumpin. From there they travelled south along the beach on the eastern coast of Minjerribah (Mulgumpin and Minjerribah being joined at that time). Kabul and Dumgo continued to swim to the mouth of the Nerang River, and, in a hurry to return home, they travelled overland to their starting point, their return passage creating the red earth islands and waters of the southern Quandamooka.  

Layered through composition are sounds that country hears – field  recordings from the artist’s Ancestral country, sounds of rippling salt water currents, seeping groundwater,  sucking mud, onshore breezes, and seabirds that come to rest in the Quandamooka annually, after long flights. Also heard are vibrations from passing traffic, the buzz of electric lighting, with interjections made by the harsh metallic clanking of star pickets, banged together in the artist’s hands like contemporary clapsticks. The sonic counterpoint Harward creates between the sounds of saltwater country and the sound of iron stakes driven into the earth to assert and demarcate perceived ownership of the land establishes a dialectic between the sounds of country, and the sounds of white possession. This is punctuated by softly-spoken select moments of language. Harward alludes to the invasion of the continent by imperial forces, while respecting the fundamental distinctions in Aboriginal culture between the right to know, the right to speak, and the right to speak for and to repeat knowledge. Close listeners will also hear the intergenerational memory of snake bellies sliding across the country into the gurgling, bubbling sounds that signal the beginning of a new cycle, the incoming tide (yunggulba) surging into and filling up the crab holes in the mangrove mud. 

The preservation and protection of mangroves and their ecosystems are a central feature of Harward’s work. With the Ramsar protected wetlands at Toondah Harbour, Cleveland under threat of massive overdevelopment, this haven for migratory shore birds will disappear.