Memories of searching for bush tucker, a tiny one-teacher school and sleeping six to a bed to keep warm have been preserved in a unique way as Goonoowigall joins the Soundtrails smartphone app.
“It’s an app you can download to your phone that uses GPS technology, that when you actually walk up to a point then you can listen to the stories that relate to a certain point,” Inverell Shire mayor Paul Harmon said.
From wallpapering the family house with posters of their favourite movie stars to fearing the welfare during the years of the Stolen Generations, the stories provide a rich and varied picture of life in the Kamilaroi community. Visitors are encouraged to bring headphones and immerse themselves in the oral history of those who lived in the place once known as Sheep Station Gully from the 1940s to 1970s.
Officially launched at Goonoowigall last Thursday, October 25, the project is fully funded by the Inverell Shire Council following advice from an Aboriginal consultative committee on embracing and fostering Indigenous tourism.
“To be honest we haven’t done that very well in the past here. So Peter Caddey and his team down at Tourism Inverell, they looked at something and came up with the idea of the Goonoowigall Soundtrails,” Cr Harmon said.
Producer Hamish Sewell took on the project, which features the voices of many well-known community members including Beryl Hepi, Elder Aunty Elizabeth Connors and local historian Elizabeth Wiedemann.
“It was really moving on the day, particularly for the families who had lived there,” Cr Harmon said of the launch.
“Aunty Elizabeth Connors, she’s in her 90s, she’s a fantastic elder within the Indigenous community and also our community as a whole; she grew up there. And all her siblings were there and her grandchildren and her great, great grandchildren. So a very special day for the Connors family to be part of.”
The local elders group, Giree Giree, presented Aunty Elizabeth with a special banner to commemorate the occasion.
Mr Caddey said he and his staff chose the Soundtrail app to promote Indigenous tourism in the Inverell Shire, because they understood the value of oral history to Aboriginal people.
“That’s what is so special about the Goonoowigall Soundtrails. It’s an oral account of the families living there, and it embraces the culture of how they actually narrated their history to the next generation,” he said.
To hear the stories, download the free Soundtrails app from the Apple App Store or Google Play. The audio can be listened to both on and off-site. GPS capability should be switched on.