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Ricky Maynard

Portrait of a Distant Land



Vansittart Island, Bass Strait, Tasmania 2005

[Vansittart Island is also known as Gun Carriage]
Gelatin silver print
Monash University Collection
Purchased 2010

Coming Home 2005
Gelatin silver print
Monash University Collection
Purchased 2010


ningimpi Gun Carriage

Grandmother Gun Carriage

taymi mina takara Pakana-mana-mapali tangara. taymi
taymi mina takara Pakana-mana-mapali tangara. taymi

Never have I stepped where my mob wept. Not yet.
Never have I stepped where my mob wept. Not yet.

waranta liyini wurangkili-tu, rayakana-mana-mapali awakening tunapri ngini-mana; tears-mana mitungkuna nininglinam-nara.
waranta liyini tiyuratina-ti, nara ningina yula-mana-mapali; nara ringina nimiwatina putiya takamuna.
waranta kanaplila nara mimara wiringini malaki-ti.
mina ningina kuwara

We will sing to the sky, our voices awakening the memory of our stolen ancestors, our tears flowing into their empty graves.
We will sing to the winds who carry our yula, who now burrow where the mutton can’t stand.
We will hold ceremony for her name that is now lost in whiteness.
I take my last draw of feathers.

yula pawa luna ngini, yula pawa mina kani
nara tunapri mina putiya taypani

After bird’in Old Girl, after bird’in I say.
She understands that I won’t be coming

taymi mina takara Pakana-mana-mapali tangara. taymi.
Never have I stepped where my mob wept. Not yet.

palawa kani translation, Theresa Sainty

Grandmother Gun Carriage

She is a matriarch of the sound. Her staunchness never flinching at the storm the changing tides bring.

I sit in awe on the Dog peering through the tussocks and over the waves, as I catch my breath and roll a smoke full of feathers.

I try to hide so she can’t see me but she knows I’m there.
She sings me in a melody of pain sung in the key of fortitude.
A melody I know all too well but have no memory of being taught.

I reply with the promise I promise her every birding.
When the wings of a million birds leave the Dog, so will I and I will come to you.

Never have I stepped where my mob wept. Not yet.
Never have I stepped where my mob wept. Not yet.

I will cross the path of the confused sea that separates us.
I will meet the hidden potholes who’s wake soddens the unexpected helmsman with life and salt.
I will disembark from my emotional denial, embracing her from the coffers of my heart.

Never have I stepped where my mob wept. Not yet.
Never have I stepped where my mob wept. Not yet.

Like a pilot bird, she will navigate me through our trauma and I will hold her like a poorly son in need of a mother’s love.
We will be together again.

We will sing to the sky, our voices awakening the memory of our stolen ancestors, our tears flowing into their empty graves.
We will sing to the winds who carry our yula, who now burrow where the mutton can’t stand.
We will hold ceremony for her name that is now lost in whiteness.
I take my last draw of feathers.

After birding aunt, after birding I say.
She understands that I won’t be coming.

Never have I stepped where my mob wept. Not yet.
Never have I stepped where my mob wept. Not yet.

Nathan Maynard

Aunty Theresa Sainty is a Pakana woman with ancestral connections to the north east coast of Lutruwita (Tasmania) and more recently (since the 1830s) the Furneaux Islands. She is an Aboriginal Linguistic Consultant with the palawa kani Language Program run by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation (TAC). Theresa is committed to sharing language within the Pakana community, and also sharing language, culture and history with the broader community. She is currently completing a Senior Indigenous Research Scholarship at the University of Tasmania with a focus on language communities who have successfully taken language retrieval and revival to the next step – and is confident that Tasmanian Aboriginal people will be speaking their language in all aspects of life.

Nathan Maynard is a Pakana writer, performer and producer. He comes from a long line of mutton-birders with ancestral connections to larapuna country, north east Lutruwita (Tasmania). Since the 1830’s, Nathan’s family have been known as the Maynard’s and in that time developed a strong connection with the Furneaux Islands. Nathan has the support of his Elders in telling the communities stories. His seminal work The Season opened at the Opera House in Sydney in 2017 and toured Australia. The Season was acclaimed for its disarming, funny, and real portrait of Tasmanian Aboriginal culture and the practice of mutton-birding, winning numerous awards including the Green Room Awards and Tasmanian Theatre Awards.

This project has been assisted by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.