BENEATH a eucalypt, tribal neighbours Amy Hammond and Gabi Briggs sit quietly and weave.
Cutting, splitting, drying – their hands moving in the same rhythm their ancestors did thousands of years ago.
“The more we can live like our ancestors, the better we are,” Gomeroi weaver Amy Hammond said.
“People need to come back to this, we need to stop thinking we have to move forward – progress, progress, progress. It’s wrong.”
Piles of Lomandra grass lay in the centre of the circle, it’s a plant native to Australia and by far one of the toughest.
For these women, the practice of weaving is about more than utility.
It threads back together the links to country that were broken two centuries ago.
“A lot of people would consider it an arts and craft thing but it’s so much bigger than that,” Anaiwan woman Gabi Briggs said.
“It’s healing, it’s cultural revitalisation.
“It provides safety for us to yarn, to talk about things in a cultural space – it’s very therapeutic.”
There’s a power in weaving to heal, Ms Hammond knows, she’s seen it.
It’s always been here it’s just been sleeping, the grasses have been waiting for us.Amy Hammond
“It’s bringing people back to country, who they are.
“We talk about weaving stories into baskets.
“We have women who come to the workshops that have lost babies, it helps them through that time and they weave for their baby.
“I’ve seen other women come off of heavy drugs and alcoholism, it’s helped them through that journey. It’s powerful.”
Ms Hammond takes children out on country to learn about their culture.
She remembers a young girl who was on a lot of medications and would have seizures daily.
“This little girl picked the grasses up and took it to where we were weaving, she didn’t have one seizure all day,” she said.
“Her mother cried and said doctors couldn’t do it.
“So what was it about this girl coming out to do this with us and she didn’t have one? How can you explain that?”
While other cultures move forward, Ms Hammond said Aboriginal people should seek to look back.
“It’s like planting a tree, you know you probably won’t get to sit under the shade of that tree – what we’re doing here, it’s bigger than us,” she said.
“We want to be like our ancestors where white people seem to want to be better than their’s, we need to do more of this or we’re killing ourselves.
“It’s always been here it’s just been sleeping, the grasses have been waiting for us.”
She has opened a workshop in Tamworth, Yinarr Maramali, meaning made by Gomeroi woman’s hands.