Red Land 1976-2019
The seeds of Rod Cameron and Maria Rosa’s collaboration began when she attended a concert of The Red Land Club in Perth in 1976. She encouraged her students at the then Tardun Special Aboriginal School to express themselves creatively within their love for composing music while simultaneously improving their literacy skills. Maria bought the Red Land book of Rod's poetry at the Perth Red Land Club concert and used its content to scaffold her Tardun students' efforts. Rod's simple yet profound words provided a window of affirmation in English of some of their culture's concepts.
In 1991, Rod wrote:
Human life is lived in two dimensions.
One out-stretches to the long horizons
While the other gives us fellowship with the stars,
One is secular and the other is sacred.
The secular and the sacred need each other
We leave our footprints on the crimson earth
And light our little campfires in the night
But our human spirit cannot be contained.
It leaps beyond the canopy of stars.
The human soul is a citizen of the Universe.
Rod also commented that, after thirty years of listening and working with peoples of Indigenous descent, his opinion is that we can be truly enriched through their interpretation of the human experience (January 15, 1989). Rod, recipient of a Master of Science degree, came to his understandings via a scientific approach. He worked for many years at St Augustine’s College, Brookvale, a suburb of Sydney.
On August 23, 1989, together with speakers of Indigenous descent, students from Mount St Bernard, Herberton, singers and dancers from Mossman and Kuranda, Rod addressed “The Eternal Now” at the Civic Centre, Florence St, Cairns (see Cairns Post 12/8/89). In many other appearances across the country, he expounded on the meaning of The Dreaming born out of his dialogue with many people of Australian Indigenous descent. He wrote that the “Red Land” is Australia.
The Red Land Story
Rod Cameron, OSA (Personal Communication to Maria Rosa):
"One thing leads to another. An early edition of the Red Land book was published in 1972. Soon after that a Red Land Club was formed at Saint Augustine’s College in Brookvale, Sydney. Three boys started it as an entertainment club. It was not long before boys were writing their own music to some of the poems. On stage they acted out Aboriginal stories with which they were familiar.
At first they were thinking mainly of entertaining relatives and friends at the college. But audiences grew and after a few years the Red Land Club went on tour. Over the years they visited Perth, Adelaide, Cairns, Mareeba, Herberton, Innisfail, Cunnamulla, Charleville, Ulladulla and Kyabram.
In 1976 the Red Land Club performed at the Sydney Opera House. Like the wandering Spirit People of the Dreamtime, we still journey into the vast horizons of this Land".
History of the Red Land Songs CD
Liz Giddey, Kerry Sanders, the Brigidine Sister Marie Langtry, Yvonne Maulden and Maria Rosa donated their time and skills to produce the original Red Land Songs cassette in 1986. They did so with Allan Black, the then manager of Black Inc Studios who was most supportive. The funding for the recording sessions came from money generated within previous Red Land initiatives.
Fr Rod later wrote a number of books published by St Paul’s Publications: Alcheringa: The Australian experience of the Sacred (1992); Karingal: A Search for Australian Spirituality (1995); Opala: A search for desert water (1997).
Fr Rod commissioned songs post 1986 and these are presented in later albums.