Wominjeka: The Thank You Workshop

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

Wominjeka: The Thank You Workshop

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
Minimum $500 per workshop (90 mins)
Travel/accom/road toll costs may apply in some locations

See MP3s below to listen to the song

Aboriginal,Torres Strait Islands and Australian flag

“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)


Wominjeka: The Thank You Workshop

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
  • 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.

Students learn about respect for other cultures and to take responsibility, without guilt, for our history.

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.

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

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

The Australian History Show                                                                          

In The Australian History Show I sing a variety of old and new Australian songs and tell stories from all periods of Australian history.The exact items will very according to the curriculum focus of the class, but it can be anything from convict ballads, Indigenous songs and stories (with permission) to original contemporary material.

I get students involved in discussion and in singing and playing instruments.  The Australian History Show is entertaining, informative, flexible and fun with lots of student participation in the music and stories.

In the show I play five-string banjo, harmonica, bodhran (Irish drum), ukulele, spoons, rhythm bones and tea-chest bass, and get students playing some of these instruments.

I also use selected props, costumes and artefacts that I’ve collected on my travels – a conch shell that leads to the story of fire; a dog-spike from when I was a fettler on the old Ghan railway line, etc.

The items performed can be general Australian history as described above, or if you wish the focus can be narrowed to certain areas, for example:

  • Black-white history
    Historical stories of first contact, with songs I’ve learnt from Indigenous friends and from events such as the 1966 Gurindji walk-off; excerpts from my theatre shows Whitefella Learns to Dance, The Go-between: William Murrungurk Buckley, Bilarni and CANAKKALE. GALLIPOLI. Lest We Forget; material from radio and television documentaries that 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 CD 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
Colonial & Indigenous


Story theatre with lots of visuals

Colonial and Indigenous Victoria, told through story of escaped convict William Buckley (1780-1856): his 32 years as a Wathaurong Aborigine,
and as the go-between in Melbourne’s birth.



“Excellent. It supported what we had learnt in class and Jan was both commanding and credible to the students.” (Jennifer Todd & Shelley Mulvenna, Karingal Park SC)

“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)

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 may apply in some locations


The Go-Between: William Murrungurk Buckley

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 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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