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How do we listen to Country and why is it so important to do? Everything and everyone is Country, even you and me! That means that we are connected to everything happening around us, so it is important to understand how everything works and notice when patterns change.

Mountain tops covered in mist.
Listening to Mountains teaches me that mist can be their way of choosing not to be seen. Image: Sara Judge
© Sara Judge

First Nations peoples listen to Country in many ways.

We make family relationships with the plants, animals, rivers, mountains, sky and sea. We get to know the changing seasons and pay attention to the signals from Country that let us know what is happening. We learn who lives and belongs where, and care for the foods and shelters they need when we are in those places. We make tools, textiles, stories, dances and adornments that hold important lessons, remind us how to live good lives, and express who we are and who our Country is.

Let’s look at some examples of listening to Country

Sydney Common Octopus

Ocean Currents

First Nations saltwater peoples listen carefully to the Ocean and the lessons Country teaches us about sea foods, materials, ecosystems and relationships. Our Oceans are asking us to care about the animals who are eating, breathing and becoming sick from these pollutants before it’s too late. Learn more.

Grey Mangrove trees that are perfect for making Boomerangs

Mangrove Boomerangs

First Nations peoples have listened to Mangroves for a long time. We hear the lessons being told in their wood by noticing the ways that their branches grow. Mangroves and Boomerangs teach us to give as often as we receive. Learn more.

Humpback whales

Whale poo and climate change

Looking at the world as a connected web is at the heart of First Nations cultures. Whales and climate change are a really interesting example of connections that reach far and wide across Country. Learn more.

Nautilus shell forehead circlet E014550

Shell adornments

First Nations adornments are much more than just jewellery. What we wear lets others know who we are, where we are from, and what our relationships with Country are. Learn more.

Editorial note: Some animal names and ecologies have been capitalised to give agency to Country by First Nations writers. Find out more about why we capitalise English language in reading Who is Country.

About the author

Sara Kianga Judge is a neurodiverse Walbanja-Yuin woman who grew up on Burramattagal Country. She is an environmental scientist, geographer and artist passionate about accessible science communication and helping people to grow meaningful relationships with Country.