Aunty Munya is of the Bardi people in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
She now lives in Sydney, is a barrister and runs business consultancy Evolve Communities with co-director Carla Rogers, which specialises in Indigenous cultural awareness and training.
She says the book aims to give all Australians a deeper understanding of the world’s oldest continuous culture.
Journey into Dreamtime explores concepts of songlines and sacred sites, the reason behind the Rainbow Serpent’s name, what role it plays in traditional healing, how to discover your ‘dreaming’ and what it can teach you.
“(Rainbow Serpent) is understood right across Australia but the stories about the Rainbow Serpent will differ according to different groups and they’ll have their own names for it.”
There are also stories of emu creators, kangaroo creators or whale creators.
“There are regional differences,” she said.
Aunty Munya is now finishing her second book, Dreamtime values to live by, which explores concepts of family, compassion and oneness, but from an Aboriginal perspective.
“What it’s offering is a spirituality of all Australians, one that is born of all Australians. You live in this land, you walk on this land and in the footsteps of our ancestors. Teaching people to be mindful and respectful of that,” she said.
We really have taken on aspects of each others culture, but to do it in a really conscious way, so we can hopefully become one people. Where we respect each others cultures and see value in both.
She said fostering this kind of understanding was intrinsically important as the push for national reconciliation and recognition of Australia’s First Peoples in the constitution reignited.
“It’s about bridging the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, bringing us closer together and also forging a shared identity because we both live in this country.
“As I say to people, they aren’t just my ancestors they’re your ancestors.”
It’s been almost two years since leaders from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities gathered at the sacred site of Uluru to develop the Uluru Statement.
“You want to make sure you get it right especially for something that will last for generations to come, it needs to be really carefully thought out and considered,” she said.
But Aunty Munya believes it is the right time.
“(Non-Aboriginal people) … are opening their hearts and minds and wanting to know more about Indigenous people and I think this is the right time for this to happen,” she said.
She said understanding dreamtime was a way to foster a “deep sense of belonging”.
“After all, we’re all Australians and we have much to learn from each other.”
Nicole Precel is a video journalist and reporter at The Age. She is also a documentary maker.