It was balmy and still for autumn, the perfect setting for the launch of Healesville Sanctuary’s Camp Corroboree with Archie Roach on Saturday night.
The 500 plus-strong audience sat spellbound as Archie Roach, one of Australia’s best internationally recognised singer-storytellers, sung with measured reason and heartfelt sorrow of his own deeply personal experiences, as well of those of his ancestors, songs penned over 20 years.
Under a clear, starlit Coranderrk night sky, Archie watched the moon rise overhead as he introduced each song with a little anecdote or message. Archie and his band performed Move it On, A Child Was Born Here and Beggar Man before the deeply moving Walking into Doors. His honest storytelling through song told many tales about Indigenous Australia - about tribute and memory, celebration and looking forward.
Archie spoke about treading gently on the land and the importance of healing the land. “When you heal the land, you heal the people: when you heal the people, you heal the land,” Archie explained to the audience, before closing the set with Heal the People, a fitting tribute to the role Healesville Sanctuary is playing to protect, celebrate and share the cultural significance and history of the Coranderrk Bushland, as well as its unique role in saving vulnerable animal species from extinction. It was here that he enjoyed the most rapturous applause and a well-deserved standing ovation.
The relevance of the setting, the old Coranderrk Mission on which Healesville Sanctuary stands today, was not lost on anyone. A beautiful, emotional moment.
It was a live music setting – and set - like no other. Sitting together around a fire pit campfire, Archie took the crowd into the Dreaming time under the Coranderrk sky lit by the spirit of Indigenous ancestors with music to touch the spirit and soul.