Bunjil the Eagle iBook

This week we began our Victoria program in beautiful Jaara Country, facilitating workshops in Castlemaine and Bendigo. We felt an extremely warm welcome to this beautiful part of the world, thanks to our Dja Dja Wurrung host, Elder Rick Nelson, the St. Peter’s Primary and Meeting Place staff from Nalderun Community Organisation, volunteers and students.

It was an exciting week as our team, consisting of an animator, sound-artist, photographer and videographer, worked toward SharingStories newest and most comprehensive digital storytelling platform to date, the ‘pilot’ of our upcoming iBook series.

Generously funded by Gandel Philanthropy, our creative team collaborated with Elders, children and community members from St. Peter’s Primary, Bendigo and The Meeting Place, Castlemaine to bring the story of ‘Bunjil the Eagle’ to life on the iPad screen.

Our animator, Lindsay, and sound-artist Jane were immediately inspired by Rick’s enthusiasm and the way he engaged the children with the story of Bunjil. With techniques like shadow puppetry, stop motion, and experimental field recording, they brought 12 colourful images to life, drawings previously created by the community for the print version of ‘Bunjil the Eagle’.

An excursion with the children to Lalgambook (Mt. Franklin) and Mt.Tarrengower allowed us to gaze over this beautiful Country, and hear the stories of Elders Rick Nelson, and Julie McHale amidst the elements. Atop a windswept tower on Tarrengower, the kids spotted Bunjil swooping through the sky, and there were many squeals of delight over his presence. Waa (the crow) was also present in the schoolyard at St. Peter’s Primary, and the kids managed to sample his skwawk for an animation. It seems both were keeping a watchful eye.

In addition to the colorful animations, SharingStories team members Liz and Taz created photo-stories and short films of local children and community members to engage readers of the iBook in a deeper dialogue with Dja Dja Wurrung Country and its people. Stunning images, and evocative stories of Possum skin cloaks, cultural identity and local history will feature throughout the iBook, alongside audio reads of the story by children, and clickable Dja Dja Wurrung audio words.

We would like to thank Gandel Philanthropy for creating the opportunity to make this new educational platform a possibility. This iBook format has the potential to engage students throughout Australia and deepen cultural awareness. It was our great pleasure to host Alexandra White from Gandel at St.Peter’s Primary School as we presented the iBook to the community. We were overjoyed with the reception it received, and look forward to future collaboration with the Dja Dja Wurrung community.