Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

There is no other place I would rather be on Australia Day.

Saltwater Freshwater Festival 2014

Uncle Martin and friends dancing to the music of Troy Cassar-Daley

For me personally Australia Day is about paying my respect to Australia’s first peoples, a people who have survived and contributed so much to society with little recognition.

I admire the bonds of family within Aboriginal communities, something that seems to be frequently disappearing from mainstream society. I love the welcome I receive for acknowledging Aboriginal people and culture.

For the past four years I have had the wonderful honour of photographing three of the Saltwater Freshwater Festivals. Port Macquarie, Taree and this year at Kempsey.

2014 was the year for the Dunghutti people of Kempsey  to showcase their local Aboriginal Culture and Heritage.


Rhys Waite


Dunghutti dancer Auntie Thelma Kelly

As a photographer it is a perfect location with colour, subject and entertainment  all together in one location.

Photographing the festival is exciting and entertaining but the greatest satisfaction comes from sharing and participating with Australia’s first peoples. The friendships, the conversation and the opportunity to engage and communicate with the local Aboriginal community is a wonderful experience for all Australians.



Troy Cassar-Daley

Troy Cassar-Daley, the headline act for the festival, had the audience up and dancing below the stage. He had already had a big week at the Tamworth Music Awards. I had great admiration for Troy as he signed autographs and had photos taken with his fans for an hour and a half following his performance.


From Kempsey band Sages Muse

As with previous years the team at Saltwater Freshwater Alliance had put together an amazing line-up of artists on stage. They included fresh new sounds from local band Sages Muse, a powerful bluesy performance by Amos Morris, haunting melodies from Jess Beck and great dance beats from hip hop duo Supafresh.


Wagana Dancers

The dance place had performances by the Dreamtime Sistas led by Auntie Thelma Kelly, the Gumleaf Band, the Wagana Dancers and Steve Donavon with the flash mob.

One of my fondest memories will be of the opening Kempsey Australia Day awards and a yarn that will make me smile for awhile:

While photographing the awards the odd big green grape would land with precision accuracy on the crown of my head. Despite several unsuccessful attempts to discover the source, the mischievous perpetrators had beaten me with their stealth and no doubt a well deserved giggle.

Loved it!


Uncle Martin Ballangarry


Amos Morris with an awesome bluesy performance

Steven Donavon leading the Flash Mob

Steven Donavon leading the Flash Mob

The Gumleaf Band

The Gumleaf Band

Nanapush is getting old now. He had moved north to where the ice was plentiful and had been living in retirement. He had been a trickster often seen as a rabbit but above all was known for his teachings of humanity. It was said by some he was the son of the west wind or the sun.

Nanapush - The Trickster

Nanapush – The Trickster

In recent times Nanapush had became concerned by the melting ice and the uncertainty of the animals. He sensed that it was time for him to return to his teachings. He was once again needed.
He called all the creatures of the world, both new and old, to meet in the ancient forests and special places across the earth.
He summonsed the Wematekan’is (magical little people) to help him on his journey. Their role was to help teach the the seventh generation, by their mischievous little actions, about the changes now occurring.

A note of warning – Don’t upset the Wematekan’is!

The Wematekan’is are mischievous little creatures but can serve as messengers of the Great Spirit.

Wematekan'is magical little people of the forest.

Wematekan’is magical little people of the forest.

Nanapush and the Wematekan’is travelled far around the world searching for those who were still in tune with the natural world. They travelled the ancient worlds of Gondwana and Laurasia, once the two great continents, where many of the great animals evolved and moved freely.

Gondwana and animals of ancient lands

Gondwana and animals of ancient lands

An old man from the south was visiting the forest, and was able to see all the animals in the naughty little tricks played by the Wematekan’is.

For three days the old man returned to the forest knowing that his visions were special but still unable to understand.

Suddenly Nanapush appeared and told him to listen.

We are the creatures from both old and new.

You have been chosen to see us. Our message is clear.

After this first vision I returned to the forest.

After this first vision I returned to the forest.

Our homes are being destroyed and the thunder beings are angry. Many of the animals, big and small have disappeared. We are sad because the greedy ones are not heeding the warnings and listening to mother nature. They are blinded by gold and power rather than the joy of life.

A wise figure appeared in my quest.

A wise figure appeared in my quest.

We all share the fields, the mountains, the forest and oceans. The great North Mountain and his brothers have spoken to you. Your help is needed.

Listen to the old teacher who has taught you about life on earth. She has great wisdom and she knows the truth.

Everything is written in the trees and in the rocks. Look closely and understand the great oceans and the air we breathe are suffering too.

Share your visions because what is most important will be written in the minds of all people.

Creatures of the Sea

Creatures of the Sea

The Stallion

The Stallion

The story above is my interpretation of the visions I saw in my three short visits to the forest. The story is told with great respect to Native Americans and Eastern Woodland culture. The Anishinabe, Ojibway, Algonquin and Lenape had close ties with my ancestors and their stories are reflected above. See more at

Look closely at the images in the following link and find more legends of the forest.

My thanks to “One Who Knows” for making me aware of the Wematekan’is.