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Cass Lynch

Presented in Season 1 2021

Commissioned by
Arts House for Refuge 2021

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Duration: 13 minutes

Step out of the time shallows and into the deep-water memory of Boonwurrung Country.

Developed in collaboration with Boonwurrung Elder N’arweet Carolyn Briggs, Watershed is an essay and audio recording that delves into the deep history of Melbourne’s waterways.

This is not the first time this land has faced a climate crisis, and Watershed is an illuminating exploration of the resilience of Country and the meaning of change. From continental drift to the natural flooding of Nairm/Port Phillip Bay, explore the deep time perspective of Indigenous climate memory.

Boonwurrung words and history from ‘The Journey Cycles of the Boonwurrung’ by N’arweet Carolyn Briggs. Permission to share and discuss Boonwurrung cultural heritage granted by N’arweet Carolyn Briggs.

“My research into Indigenous climate memory has impacted the way I perceive time, space and memory. To engage with deep time and deep memory is to embrace a bifocal, prismatic experience of the world, where ripples of the past lengthen and reverberate throughout the present and into the future. I find great comfort and inspiration in knowing how resilient land, water, animals, plants and people have been in previous climate change events. However the colony continually seeks to sever our connections with the past, forcing deep forgetting on us so that the violence of invasion might be buried. This traps everyone in the anxious present, forcing the status quo’s neurotic fatalism in the face of climate change on us all. My writing sinks us back into the deep narratives of place to reconnect with the resilient power of Country in the face of adversity. “ – Cass Lynch, 2021.


About Cass Lynch

Cass Lynch is a Noongar writer and researcher living on Whadjuk Noongar Country in Perth. She has recently completed a creative writing PhD that explores deep memory features of the Noongar oral storytelling tradition; in particular stories that reference the last ice age and the rise in sea level that followed it. Her Noongar language haikus, published in Westerly 64.1, won the 2019 Patricia Hackett Prize. Her story 'Split', a creative impression of deep time Perth, can be found in 'Flock: First Nations Stories Then and Now' by UQP.

About Theo McMahon

Theo McMahon is a multidisciplinary artist and proud Bundjalung man with extensive experience in sound design, composition and live performance. His work simulates politics and art, psycho-geography, and the politics of contended spaces, creating agency and voice for First Nations people with a current focus on locality and significance of place imbued with a deep sense of history.

Artistic Credits

Writer – Cass Lynch; Water Story Custodian and Guiding Boonwurrung Elder – N’arweet Carolyn Briggs; Sound – Theo McMahon; Audio Recording – Mei Swan Lim

Supported by – Arts House is a key program of the City of Melbourne, and supported by the Australia Council for the Arts.

Image – by Sarah Rowbottam.