NAIDOC Dinner Service 2016 – Songlines

For those of us who were unable to be with us, here are some moments from our dinner service last night as requested.
Welcome and Introduction
Theme for NAIDOC week 2016: Songlines
In traditional Aboriginal society Songlines cris-crossed the whole Australian landscape linking important sites and locations. Songlines are intricate maps of land, sea and country. They describe travel and trade routes, the location of waterholes and the presence of food. In many cases, Songlines on the earth are mirrored by sky Songlines, which allowed people to navigate vast distances of this nation and its waters.
These Songlines are recorded in traditional songs, stories, dance and art. They carry significant spiritual and cultural connection to knowledge, customs, ceremony and Lore of many Aboriginal nations and Torres Strait Islander language groups.
The word ‘Songline’ is used to describe such travel routes because the natural features and directions of travel along each trail were coded into a song, which had to be memorised and sung as you traveled in order to remind you of the route you wished to follow. There were literally thousands of lines to be learned and you had to know when to switch to the lines of verses applying to the particular route you wished to follow. Traveling through the bush was therefore a joyous occasion for Aboriginal people. Not only would they always be singing the song that attached to their route and destination, but they would also be singing the coded ecological relationships within each area. ‘Singing Country’ was therefore an integral part of how they consciously exercised their land and ecological management responsibilities.
Songlines were not restricted to the area of a single tribe and often stretched hundreds of miles. When traveling through another tribe’s territory the song for that section had to be sung in the language of that tribe, as a sign of the legitimacy of your travel. In other words the song very literally was your passport through foreign lands and it saved you from arrest and deportation, or worse.
Songlines have been passed down for thousands of years and are central to the existence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They are imperative to the preservation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural practices.
(Sources: &
I have been enjoying learning about songlines and thinking about our journeys.
The verse from Jeremiah 6:16 came to my mind.
Powerpoint Slide:
Thus says the LORD:
Stand at the crossroads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies;
and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16 (NRSV)
What a joy and privilege it is to journey together. Let’s say grace.
Grace – Mark
Video clip  – The Children Came Back
Video clip on Songlines
Songlines-inspred Worship Activity
Powerpoint Slide:
May all evil sleep,
May all good awake,
In thy way.
Source: “Mystery on the Isle of Skye”
Songlines-inspired Prayer Activity
Materials: Coloured paper, pens, dot stickers.
Draw a symbol of your home on the paper and a or some significant places you go to throughout the week.
Draw a line from your home to each place and along that line, write or draw a message of thanks for this journey and blessing on the people you will encounter there and along the way.
Play track ‘Cafe del Wugularr’ by Tom E Lewis as people pray.
May each of our journeys be a blessing.
May all evil sleep,
May all good awake,
in our way.
Tea & Cake
Message for tonight from Patricia, a leader and elder at Beswick church in Beswick – a community South East of Katherine. 
Closing Blessing
A Celtic Blessing: “The Path”
God bless the path on which you go
God bless the earth beneath your feet
God bless your destination.
God be a smooth way before you
A guiding star above you
A keen eye behind you
This day, this night, and forever.
God be with you whatever you pass
Jesus be with you whatever you climb
Spirit be with you wherever you stay.
God be with you at each stop and each sea
At each lying down and each rising up
In the trough of the waves, on the crest of 
 the billows.
Each step of the journey you take.
Extra Material of Interest: How to find songlines in your area.