• The Welcome to Country app is a portal into the many cultures of Indigenous Australia. (YouTube)
Indigenous Australian cultures passed on their stories through word of mouth, but now we can learn about them at the push of a button.
By
Andrea Booth

Source:
NITV News
25 Feb 2016 - 5:14 PM  UPDATED 26 Feb 2016 - 11:37 AM

An important symbol for the Bindal people in northern Queensland is the shooting star.

They believe that when a star falls there is either danger coming from that direction or someone from that direction is in danger.

But for the Ngarluma people in Western Australia, back on earth holds most significance. For them, rock art holds a deep spiritual connection to the land, waterways, the river and the sea.

Technology is hard to come by in the remote community of Ngarluma on the mid-north coast of Western Australia, but that did not sway developer Tyson Mowarin from bringing his Welcome to Country app to life through collaborating with web developers. 

Each time a user crosses into a different nation, the app sends a push notification and a traditional owner welcomes them to country via video. 

"Our traditional lands are ancient and sacred," says Ngarluma traditional owner Kerry Churnside.

"We must respect it at all times."

The user can then navigate different sections of the app to learn more about the culture and geography of the region.

The current Version 1.1 of the app spans 40 nations, but Mr Mowarin aims to include around five hundred nations that make up Australia.

"What I want people to learn, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, is to ... acknowledge and recognise that before settlement there was almost five hundred nations in Australia and these five hundred nations still exist," Mr Mowarin told NITV News.

Mr Mowarin, who created the app as founder of Weerianna Street Media, says he believes it will grow relationships between Australians.

"It gives people an automatic connection to the people and place so you’re not strangers, and once you acknowledge each other you get along a bit more."

What is 'Welcome to Country'?

A 'Welcome to Country' is a practice that has taken place for thousands of years in Indigenous Australia where an Indigenous custodian or elder from a particular traditional area in Australia welcomes people to their land through speech, ceremony or music.

It is considered respectful to organise a "Welcome to Country" for public events. 

If you've already created an online welcome to country or are interested in being part of the app and producing a Welcome to Country video specifically for the app, contact Weerianna Street Mediaand.

Download the app on iTunes

The 'Welcome to Country' introductions do not substitute official, in-person, welcomes.

The app is supported by the Australian government and Woodside Energy/Pluto LNG.

NITV would like to acknowledge the Cammeraygal peoples who are the traditional custodians of the Guringai nation on which our headquarters stand.

We would like to pay respect to the elders both past and present, and extend that respect to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who may come across this website.