Posts Tagged ‘NAIDOCWeek’


Fraser Coast Regional Libraries held their first Poetry Writing contest for NAIDOC Week this year.  Here I am being awarded a Highly Commended certificate and gift at the Hervey Bay Regional Art Gallery from Regional Librarian Tara Webb today (5th July 2023) for the following poem:  

Ancient Secrets in the Sky  by Celia Berrell

Australia’s first people
shared knowledge that’s verbal
through story and song
both secret and long.

They studied the skies
and became very wise
in using the stars
to travel afar.

Star maps, like diaries
can jog song-line memories,
showing the best ways
we now use as highways.

When driving one day
on the Great Western Highway,
know ancient astronomy’s
part of its history.


Ancient Secrets in the Sky was inspired by a 2016 article I read in the New Scientist magazine titled Were Aboriginal Australians the first Astronomers?  It was written by Ray Norris, a science communicator and Astrophysicist with CSIRO and the Western Sydney University.

Ray used to tour Arts Festivals with his Indigenous friend Bill, presenting a show called The First Astronomers.  All the information was based on Yidumduma Bill Harney’s knowledge of the stars, passed down the generations through rote learning.  It shows us that Aboriginal Australians were serious stargazers, long before Stonehenge or The Pyramids were built.

Yidumduma Bill Harney is an Elder and Senior custodian of the Wardaman people in the Northern Territory.  Bill was born in the 1930’s and communicates the joy of his culture to a global audience through art, story and song.  He is also a published author.

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is For Our Elders.  I’m honoured that Ancient Secrets in the Sky is being  appreciated as a way of recognising and respecting Australian Indigenous heritage of the lands on which we live and their scintillating science-based song-lines of the starry night’s sky.