Inspired by Hyllus Maris and Sonia Borg’s seminal TV series, writer Andrea James has called her play Winyanboga Yurrunga Yorta Yorta for Women of the Sun. As James takes her characters on a journey of renewal, she both entertains and educates her audience about the Aboriginal concept of Country. In the program, cultural design advisor Daniele Hromek quotes Kevin O’Brien’s explanation of country as “an Aboriginal idea … that binds groupings of Aboriginal people to the place of their ancestors past, current and future… it is revealed over time by camping in it.”

Accordingly, Auntie Neecy (Roxanne McDonald) and her younger relatives have come camping on Yorta Yorta land, as they have done before. While the women are setting up camp on Isabel Hudson’s functional yet evocative set, their easy banter reveals much about the baggage, both literal and metaphorical, that each has brought along. Neecy brings along vast cultural knowledge and spirituality – as well as essential camping gear and a mysterious, large cardboard box.

She runs a strictly dry camp, much to the chagrin of Carol (Tasma Walton), who is super-stressed about completing her PhD thesis, while dealing with misogyny and racism in her high-flying Museum job.

Capable, tolerant Margie (Dalara Williams) possesses a top of the range sleeping bag and an astute insight into other people, especially feisty Wanda (Angeline Penrith). Wanda’s disillusionment with her life as a single mother of two underscores her often sarcastic comments, the most judgemental of which are directed at newcomer Jaydah (Tuuli Narkle).

The most reluctant camper is young Chantelle (Dubs Yunupingu) whose attachment to both her mobile phone and a dodgy boyfriend proves problematic.

However, when the contents of the cardboard box are revealed, mounting tensions dissipate and the women come together as family. This particularly moving scene not only celebrates the quintessential importance of Country, but the importance of accepting their differences and supporting one another, especially the young, as epitomised in Chantelle.

Throughout this frankly feminist piece, James seamlessly incorporates historical and contemporary issues which have impacted upon her characters and Aboriginal women in general, highlighting the resilience which has enabled them to survive the past 221 years.

Director Anthea Williams and her whole creative team, especially the wonderful cast, are to be congratulated on breathing such vibrant life into this most affecting piece of theatre.

Not to be missed!