WILL Austin’s impressive resume has now extended to holding an entire primary school in the palm of his didgeridoo
The year 12 St Patrick’s College student – who is also a Headspace board member, a volunteer firefighter, a City of Ballarat youth services trainee, a Rebels footballer, a mental health awareness campaigner and one of only 13 Jim Stynes scholarship recipients nationwide – held Dana Street Primary School pupils spellbound with his playing of the traditional Aboriginal instrument on Friday.
Will, who grew up on the Framlingham Mission in Gunditjmara country near Warrnambool, also spoke about his heritage as part of the school’s celebration of NAIDOC Week.
“To be an Aboriginal is really special to me,” Will said.
“I like to immerse myself in my culture. It’s who I am and I’m proud of that and so should everyone be proud of themselves.”
Will told the pupils how a didgeridoo is made, which involves choosing a suitable branch, placing it on an ants’ nest for a few days until it is hollowed out and then putting it in a river for a thorough wash.
The bark is then stripped off and the instrument polished and painted.
Will also spoke about the lip and tongue movements needed, along with circular breathing, to make the different sounds, while demonstrating a kangaroo, a joey, a kookaburra and a dingo.
He told the pupils about the importance of country, with Aboriginal culture believing a spirit moves to the Milky Way after death but can’t stay there forever so comes back as a shooting star.
“It’s important to pay tribute to that cycle. It still exists.”
Dana Street Primary School teacher Travis Faulkhead said the school had 11 indigenous pupils and it was important to support them while raising awareness of their culture.
The school also promotes other multi-cultural activities, including Harmony Week.
“We love doing it. It opens the kids up to different cultures,” Mr Faulkhead said.
NAIDOC Week, beginning next week, celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and their contribution to society.