DOCUMENTARY MAKER: Rockhampton's Luke Geldard will receive national prominence when his documentary “Always Was: Widi Homeland” airs on SBS this week.
DOCUMENTARY MAKER: Rockhampton's Luke Geldard will receive national prominence when his documentary “Always Was: Widi Homeland” airs on SBS this week.

Rocky documentary maker’s film to premiere on SBS

THE struggles and stories of Central Queensland’s Widi people will receive nationwide television coverage on SBS this week thanks to the work of a Rockhampton documentary maker.

Normally Luke Geldard makes a living running a local advertising agency and production house but last year he branched out into the realm of documentary filmmaking to cover a significant moment in history of the Widi people.

In late July 2019, Mr Geldard travelled to Nebo to meet with the Widi who had converged from around the country to witness the Federal Court of Australia deliver the outcome for their long-standing native title claim.

Federal Justice Rangiah in the court sitting at Nebo Hall on Consent Determination Day, July 31, 2019.
Federal Justice Rangiah in the court sitting at Nebo Hall on Consent Determination Day, July 31, 2019.

In a landmark decision, almost 30 years in the making, the court formally recognised

the Widi people’s Sovereign ownership of their native lands of the Nebo Estate.

This was an important time for the Widi, particularly for the elders who had returned “home”.

Mr Geldard was invited into their world to capture their reflections on events past, present and

future, and to document for posterity their stories of cultural and personal significance.

“I had the privilege of interviewing seven elders and some relatives of native title applicants at the gathering in Nebo and got their views and thoughts on the (court) decision, the long and difficult process to get to that point and listened to their incredible stories,” Mr Geldard said.

“This is the first time I’ve met with indigenous elders and found them to be very gentle, considerate and knowledgeable people.”

Traditional smoking ceremony / on consent determination day / Nebo Park
Traditional smoking ceremony / on consent determination day / Nebo Park

He said the elders gave their thoughts on the what had happened, the amazing outcome and also their own personal journeys throughout their lives and how that had affected them.

“Many of their ancestors were dispersed from their homelands and taken away to stations and a lot of those removed had never been back to their original homeland. It’s quite sad,” he said.

Drone shot of Widi land near Nebo.
Drone shot of Widi land near Nebo.

Learning about the struggles of the Widi, and more broadly Australia’s first people throughout history, Mr Geldard said he felt grateful for the opportunity to give something back by creating his documentary “Always was: Widi homeland” which he hoped would foster a greater awareness and understanding throughout the community.

Given that his commercial work was very straightforward, Mr Geldard said he enjoyed the creative latitude afforded to him by the documentary genre.

Whanjulla Imbala – playing the didgeridoo at Elphinstone Lake – (Widi traditional meeting place)
Whanjulla Imbala – playing the didgeridoo at Elphinstone Lake – (Widi traditional meeting place)

“The documentary work is where you get more freedom to express yourself artistically in a story-telling sense and you have the opportunity to put a spotlight on important topics that can generate positive change,” he said.

Mr Geldard acknowledged the support he received from Glencore in producing the documentary.

Be sure to tune in and watch “Always was: Widi homeland” on Tuesday at 2pm on SBS or watch it later on SBS On Demand.


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