The Sacred Act of Pilgrimage

Friday  – 18 October 2019, 8.00pm

Pilgrimage is the act of sacred travel. In Australia, it is ironic that many venture overseas to walk popular pilgrimage routes, unaware of and unconnected to the ancient history of sacred walking that undergirds this entire continent. Yet the violent settlement history of Australia means that deep and soulful connection to place can be a fraught and complex thing. 

Maya sought to explore these issues in depth by walking the length of the Yarra River from the sea to the source. She traveled along a Wurundjeri Songline, a sacred path in existence for perhaps 40,000 years, now fractured with fences and private ownership. She traveled with the blessing of Melbourne’s Wurundjeri people and the support of many river lovers, and her 21 day pilgrimage was a powerful experience of reconciliation, surprising in it’s initiatory intensity, resulting in a profoundly deepened experience of place, water, and rivers. 

Her understanding that pilgrimage is a doorway into the archetypal nature of walking, precipitated by her embodied immersion in this most ancient way of moving, led to her desire to share her experience. Her book, The Comfort of Water, seeks to build bridges of respect and understanding between indigenous knowledge and European wisdom traditions, including depth psychology. In this talk, Maya will also share her understanding of archetypal experience, enriched through her recent PhD studies of evolutionary biology and neuroscience.

For more information, click here.

Deep listening, deep feeling: being present in emergent knowing

A conversation between Nora Bateson and Maya Ward

Tuesday, 26th February at 7pm

In times calling for radical transition, how do we listen to what is most essential? How do we access larger wisdoms: wisdoms of ecosystems, of bodies, of communities? This conversation between Nora Bateson, (Filmmaker, writer, educator, lecturer and President of the International Bateson Institute, based in Sweden and the USA) and Dr Maya Ward, (dancer, writer, educator, permaculturist, based in Wurundjeri Country) seeks to attend to these realms.

The perception of interdependency is not only intellectual, it is also physical, emotional, cultural, linguistic and lives in our imaginations. This emergent, improvised conversation will be an immersion into this other way of knowing, a co-creative act with time, place and participants.

For more information, click here.

To book, click on this link.

River Walkshop

Sunday, 20 October 2019, 10.00am – 4.00pm 

This ‘walkshop’ is an immersion into the archetype of the pilgrim. Through readings from her book The Comfort of Water: A River Pilgrimage, and practices of walking meditation and river contemplation, we seek to connect with the ancient imaginal power of walking through sacred land. Directed to share this work after her river pilgrimage in 2003 by senior Wurundjeri elder Joy Murphy Wandin, Maya will introduce the concept of Country. 

This word in Aboriginal English refers to the animate, aware ecosystem and our entanglement with it.


MEETING PLACE – We will meet at The Abbotsford Convent and walk to Collingwood Children’s Farm, where Maya once lived, and has many stories of farm life. We then journey along the river to Yarra Bend Park and Studley Park boathouse, where we stop for lunch. 

We then return to our starting point, walking the other side of the Yarra through some of the most beautiful natural places within the inner city. It will be a gently paced walk of about 5km, and we will be accompanied by spring wildflowers and abundant bird life. Please be prepared for Melbourne’s variable weather with sunscreen, hat, umbrella and rain jacket, comfortable walking shoes and a small backpack for snacks and water bottle. Bring a picnic lunch or buy food and drink from the cafe.

For more information, click here.

Waterfront: Forgotten Ecologies of Birrarung

Join a Andy Fergus (design advocate at the City of Melbourne, Co-Director of Melbourne Architours and teacher at the Melbourne School of Design) and Mark Skiba (Landscape Architect, Vice President of AILAand fellow Co-Director of Melbourne Architours) on a 12km bicycle tour exploring the oft-forgotten ecologies of the Yarra River, stopping along the way to meet with experts in the pre and post contact history of the lower Birrarung (Yarra River), including researchers, ecologists and landscape architects.

The tour commences in Richmond at the former Burnley Basalt Quarry and finishes in the west at Stony Creek with a short journey across the last Punt in Melbourne. From remnant vegetation, to the blasted stone of the falls, and a colony of mangroves, the journey is punctuated with a series of stops at moments which connect us to the river’s former condition, with story sharing from a series of designers and researchers who are exploring how the history of the river might inform the future possibilities for its regeneration.

Guest experts include:
Maya Ward – Author, ‘The Comfort of Water – A River Pilgrimage’
Ros Rymer – Researcher, Historian and Landscape Architect
More speakers TBC

Waterfront is presented by Open House Melbourne as part of Melbourne Design Week—an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the NGV. Forgotten Ecologies of Birrarung is co–presented by Melbourne Architours.

Access Requirements: Bike tour, BYO bike and helmet.

For more information, click here.