Bald Rock/National Parks Soundtrail

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Walking piece details

LanguageEnglish, Western Bundjalung and Githabul
Duration130 minutes

This Bald Rock Soundtrail is the northern most Soundtrail in a suite of four recently produced National Park Soundtrails in the New England region of New South Wales, Australia. Like the other three national parks Soundtrails (Coombadjha/Washpool NP, to Wollomombi Falls and then Apsley Falls in the south) Bald Rock was commissioned as part of the recovery program subsequent to the bush fires which ravaged the east coast of Australia over the summer of 2019/20. It was produced by Hamish Sewell over a year and like all Soundtrails, is available either onsite via the Soundtrails app, remotely via the app, or via the Soundtrails website.

Bald Rock is arguably Australia’s large granite intrusion in Australia and is a significant cultural site for the Western Bundjalung and Githabul people. It sits on the New South Wales side of the Queensland border, commands sweeping views and is the home to the rare Cunningham’s skink. This Soundtrail takes 2.5 hours to walk return and moves from dry sclerophyll, into large granite rock gardens up to the sub-alpine summit. Once can walk it either directly up the rock face or via the gentler Bungoona track.

Like all Soundtrails, the Bald Rock Soundtrail deploys different layers/or types of GPS triggered audio: from visible (with pictures and text) to background (loops), or instructional (plays once) fields. These work in tandem to create a highly immersive place based sound experience.

In the case of Bald Rock, background audio (only available on site so not available on the website or remotely) has been used to not only create immersive sound experiences but to ensure the ongoing protection of certain voices and songs. The background audio piece on the summit, for example (listen here: stitches together a story of the Aboriginal ‘clever man’ whose ‘Djuraveel’ or sacred site, can be seen in the distance. Permission to use this rare footage ( her fathers is singing and it was her grandfather who was the clever man) is given by Bundjalung elder, Aunty Vivienne Donnelly.

The Bald Rock Soundtrail is also a sonic homage to its first park rangers, John Sommerlad. In his eighties today, John grew up in the area and has an intimate relationship with the park, and it was he who recorded local Aborigines men in the area in the late 1960s. The Soundtrail also weaves in a range of other voices/sounds and stories: from rock orchid gardens, to geologists on granite and ignimbrite, to the story of the former border guard with PTSD as told by Nancy, his wife.

All data used on this Soundtrail, whether audio, image or text, is embedded on a stx map/file to unsure such projects are highly interoperable across different websites and locative platforms for many years to come.

Hamish Sewell


SWS Advisory Board Member SWS Advisory Board Member 2020 SWS Advisory Board Member 2021 SWS Advisory Board Member 2022

Hamish Sewell is the founder and primary audio producer with the geo locative platform Soundtrails. He has an extensive background in documentary radio and oral history and his works have won him international recognition and awards. For the last six y...

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