Wominjeka: The Reconciliation Workshop

Australian history incursions: shows & workshops for primary and secondary schools
Colonial, Indigenous & Reconciliation

Wominjeka: The Reconciliation Workshop

In this 90m minute workshop Jan teaches students to sing a song of respect for Indigenous people. The song contains many stories of black-white history which Jan tells with the aid of appropriate images. There is significant discussion and the song is recorded so students and choirs can sing it again at concerts, assemblies and Indigenous Welcome to Country.

Aboriginal,Torres Strait Islands and Australian flag
Lyrics below. Listen to song (link)

“The workshop sessions were invaluable, providing a context for students to understand the thousands of years of complex story within the song – inspiring dignity, awareness, understanding and appreciation as well as lots of laughs!” (Thias Sanson, Castlemine PS)

This can be for the entire school, and specifically for Year 4 (First Contact), 5, 6 and secondary
Australian Studies/History – Colonisation, impact on Indigenous communities, Reconciliation
& the on-going relationship between black and white Australians.

$5 per student with minimum $500 per workshop (90 mins)
Recommend 100 students per session
Travel/accom/road toll costs apply in some locations


Wominjeka means ‘welcome’ in the Wurundjeri and Dja Dja Wurrung languages of Melbourne and central Victoria, and in this workshop I teach a song of respect for Indigenous people (listen & read lyrics below).

Within this musical experience students come to understand many stories of black-white contact, welcoming, conflict and reconciliation, including:

  • How Indigenous ceremonies compare with our customs of welcome and laws of visas and passports
  • Aborigines and First Fleet soldiers dancing together
  • The Woiwurrung welcome for John Batman when he came in 1835 to ‘purchase’ the land that is now Melbourne
  • The story of William Buckley, the convict who lived with Wathauring people for 32 years
  • The Stolen Generations story
  • Jan’s personal experiences with Aboriginal people, their hospitality and welcoming

As well as historical sources I also draws on the many book, radio, film, CD and music projects I’ve worked on with Indigenous Australians.

In this workshop students learn about respect for other cultures and to take responsibility, without guilt, for our history. I do not speak on behalf of Indigenous people

How It works

*   I teach students to sing the song & tell them the stories embedded in the lyrics
*   Students offer their ways of welcome and compare with Indigenous customs
*   Discussion of issues raised by the song and stories
*   Song is recorded to CD, which the school keeps

Schools may use the song later in concerts and other occasions, and as a dignified response to Indigenous Welcome to Country.

Recommendations, audio & lyrics below

Enquiries & bookings
See choir singing song in 0pening Ceremony of the 2009 Castlemaine State Festival

Thank You for the Welcome
Words & music: Jan ‘Yarn’ Wositzky © 2009

Listen to song (Jan solo version):

Verse 1

Thank you for the welcome to your country
Thank you for the welcome to your land
Can we two walk as one underneath this sun
Thank you for the welcome to your land.

Verse 2

Thank you for the welcome to your country
Thank you for the welcome to your land
Can we two walk in peace by your shining creeks
Thank you for the welcome to your land.

Middle 8

Some of us came in chains, some with a Bible or a gun
Some to make our fortune some came for the sun
Some of us sought refuge to start our lives anew
In this in this old land
In this in this old land.


Wominjeka, wominjeka, wominjeka (Wurundjeri & Jarra version)
Bin barre barne, Bin barre barne, Bin barre barne (Wathaurong version)

Middle 8

Some of you shed your blood when the whale boats hit the sand
Some of you danced with us, dancing hand in hand
Some of you were stolen from your home when you were young
In this in this old land
In this in this old land.

Verse 3

Thank you for the welcome to your country
Thank you for the welcome to your land
Can we two walk with love under the stars above
Thank you for the welcome …


Wominjeka, wominjeka, wominjeka
Bin barre barne, Bin barre barne, Bin barre barne
Thank you for the welcome to your land.

Wominjeka means welcome in the language of the Wurundjeri people of the Melbourne area and the Dja Dja Wurrung people of central Victoria. Bin barre barne means welcome in the Wathaurong language of the Geelong area.

When sung in the country of other Aboriginal languages, the local word for welcome can be included. Please consult with local Indigenous people.

The dancing referred to in stanza three took place three days after the First Fleet arrived at Port Jackson in 1788. The white colonists were mapping the harbour, and a group of black Australians cheerfully called them ashore. A painting by Luit. Bradley records what then happened: under the trees by the beach, they all – black and white – held hands and danced.


Enquiries & bookings


Dear Jan,

The whole school community was moved by the students singing your ‘Thank You For The Welcome’ song in Reconciliation Week.

Parents commented on how the 3-6 students were so focused on the singing, really enjoying it, with such integrity, as they sang it for the Jarra elders.

The two workshop sessions were invaluable, providing a context for students to understand the thousands of years of complex story within the song. On behalf of the teachers who had the privilege to sit in on your workshops, we thank you for engaging the students in such rich sessions of storytelling – inspiring dignity, awareness, understanding and appreciation as well as lots of laughs!

 Thais Sansom

Performing Arts Teacher, Castlemaine South Primary School

Dear Jan,

I want to express my thanks for your role in the 2009 Castlemaine State Festival. Your idea to dedicate a work of thanks in response to the Jarra Welcome to Country was thoughtful and progressive. The occasion was moving and profound. As the Minister for Arts Lynne Kosky announced, it was the best Welcome to Country she has ever experienced.

Again my thanks to all involved.

Martin Paten
Festival Director, Castlemaine State Festival

Dear Jan,

I am happy to provide a recommendation to Jan Wositzky’s ‘Wominjika: The Thank You Workshop’.

I’m a Wamba Wamba man (Swan Hill, Victoria) living near Castlemaine in central Victoria, on Jarra Country. Acknowledging Country is part of my protocol as an Aboriginal person, when I am performing on another person’s land.

The Castlemaine State Festival opening incorporated a Welcome to Country by Jarra traditional owner, Uncle Brien Nelson; myself giving an Indigenous acknowledgment of Uncle’s Welcome; and Jan’s song ‘Thank You for the Welcome’ – a non Indigenous thank you and acknowledgment of Country.

As I said during that ceremony, “It takes someone special to write a song like this one”, and Jan has done something special here.  I believe Jan’s proposal to run workshops in schools which aim to teach this song and it’s message of thank you and acknowledgment of Country, should be taken up by all schools.  It provides an important way, through music, that we can better understand our place in this land.

Ron Murray – Wamba Wamba
Enquiries & bookings

Wominjeka: The Thank You Workshop – Jan ‘Yarn’ Wositzky at Uluru

The Australian History Show

Australian history incursions: shows & workshops for primary and secondary schools
General Australian History

The Australian History Show

A song & story show that covers a wide range of Australian history topics,
tailored to suit your curriculum focus.

Please ask and I’ll build the show accordingly.

P-6 and secondary
$5 per student with a minimum of $500 per show
Travel/accom/road toll fees apply in some locations

Cover illustration of Jan’s book ‘A Fruitcake of Australian Stories                                                                

In The Australian History Show is made up of songs and stories from all periods of Australian history – entertaining, informative and fun, with myself playing five-string banjo, harmonica, bodhran (Irish drum), ukulele, spoons, rhythm bones and tea-chest bass, and using props, costumes and artefacts I’ve collected on my travels.

Students are always involved – in discussion, singing and playing simple instruments.

The show varies according to the curriculum focus of the class. This focus can be general Australian history – anything from convict ballads, Indigenous songs and stories (with permission) to original contemporary material – or we can narrow the focus to particular areas.

So teachers, please ask and I’ll let you know how I can fit the bill.  For example, the following topics have been requested by teachers. :

  • Black-white history & First Contact & First Fleet
    Songs and stories I’ve learnt from Indigenous friends; researched from events such as the 1966 Gurindji walk-off and the First Fleet; my personal experiences working with Indigenous people; excerpts from my theatre show The Go-between: William Murrungurk Buckley; material from radio and television documentaries I’ve made with Indigenous people, and from my biography with Wardaman elder, Yidumduma Bill Harney.

  • Australians of Significance
    Songs and stories that tell of Capt. Cook (even though he wasn’t Australian) to writers such Henry Lawson; his mother Louis Lawson, also known as the ‘mother of the vote for women’; the female immigrant’s friend, Caroline Chisholme; John Batman, who started the ‘land rush’ to Melbourne; Gough Whitman and Vincent Lingiari who marked the beginning of Australians understanding of Land Rights with the famous photo with the handful of sand; poets Mary Gilmore and CJ Dennis, Ned Kelly and more.

  • Colonial Times
    As is well-known, I was a founder of Australia’s most famous bush band, The Bushwackers, specializing in Australia’s folk repertoire of 18th, 19thand early 20th century Australia. From this repertoire – be it convict material, men and women in the bush, the bish and the city, and much more – I can fashion a show to suit your studies.





The Go-Between: William Murrungurk Buckley

Australian history incursions: shows & workshops for primary and secondary schools

The Go-Between: William Murrungurk Buckley
Story theatre with lots of visual content
Colonial and Indigenous Victoria

William Buckley when he re-joined white society, 1835

Brief description
Through the amazing story of escaped convict William Buckley (1780 – 1856) this show tells the story of the first attempted white settlement on Port Phillip (1803), of the Wathaurong people of the Geelong with whom Buckley lived for 32 years as Murrungurk,  and then of Melbourne’s beginning (1835-7) – where Buckley became the go-between, dealing with John Batman and his attempts to buy the land off the Wurundjeri people, and the other colonists such as John Fawkner. 

“Highly useful! Gave children a unique perspective of how Melbourne evolved and of the uneasy relationship between cultures. The children listened intently and Jan had their attention for the full session. We loved the printed images on shirts and signposts to reinforce the information.” (Adam Watman, Caulfield Grammar)

More recommendations

Year 4-6 & secondary
NAT 5 (First Contacts) & 5 (Colonies)

The Practical Stuff
60 mins + questions / 60 min set up
Three students play roles with scripts sent ahead

$5 per student with minimum $500 per show
Travel/accom/road toll costs apply in some locations

” A breezy and brilliant piece of troubadour theatre. As with the very best of theatre ‘Buckley’ covers its tracks so well its agenda remains a secret – buried beneath layers of entertainment, comedy, story and song. A show worth tracking.”           (Herald-Sun)

Full Description

This show deals with Indigenous Australia and European colonisation of the Port Phillip area, from 1803 – 1837, including the founding of Melbourne.

It does so by tracking the life of convict William Buckley (1780-1856), including:

  • Buckley’s 1803 escape from Victoria’s first attempted settlement at Sorrento.
  • Buckley’s 32 years with Wathaurong Aboriginal people, where he became ‘Murrungurk’.
  • Buckley’s two years as the go-between in Melbourne’s foundation (1835-7), employed as Interpreter between the Port Phillip Aborigines and the colonists – John Batman, John Fawkner and co.

Drawing on Buckley’s 1852 biography, official documents, contemporary Buckley literature, Wathaurong language and Jan’s research in ‘Buckley country’, The Go-Between: William Murrungurk Buckley is a well-researched ripping yarn, with a quirky visual display of familiar Melbourne street signs and historical images.

It’s exciting, wild frontier history, such as we rarely hear about Victoria, and pulls no punches about the characters, ironies and violence of the time, without fear or favour to black or white, including:

*   Batman’s land deal or ‘treaty’ with the Woiwurrung people
*   Fawkner’s rivalry with Batman and his antipathy to Buckley
*   How Derrimut foiled a planned massacre of the colonists
*   The first killings of settlers and subsequent massacre of Aboriginals at Werribee
*   The disappearance of solicitor Gellibrand, who wrote Batman’s deed, and the sabotage of Buckley’s
search for him by black and white interests.

And in telling this oft-hidden history, students are asked to consider many questions about black-white relations that are as pertinent today as in the 1800’s.

And it’s from William Buckley that we have our saying, You’ve got Buckley’s – but its origin will surprise!

More recommendations
Teacher’s Notes
Enquiries/ Bookings

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