“We Are Going” alludes to several important aspects of Aboriginal Australian culture and tradition, including the bora ground and bora ring, the corroboree, and Dream Time. The poem also alludes to a local hill, establishing the importance of this specific landscape.
Bora ground is sacred ground in Aboriginal culture. A bora ring is a ring built into the ground out of earth and stone, where ceremonies would be held. The speaker alludes to both bora ground and the bora ring in several moments.
At the start of the poem, the speaker says that the group of dispossessed Aboriginal Australians come into a small town (now inhabited by white men) that is the “place of their old bora ground.” This means that white colonizers have built a town on top of Aboriginal sacred land. The poem further says that the colonizers have set up a sign saying that trash can be dumped onto this area of land, and this trash “half covers the traces of the old bora ring.” Here, the speaker shows the degree of disrespect and disregard that the colonizers show to the Aboriginal people and the land itself.
Later, the speaker asserts that they “are […] the bora ground,” revealing how their identity is inextricably connected to the sacred land and its meaning. Finally, at the end of the poem, the speaker says that “[t]he bora ring is gone,” implying that this most important aspect of Aboriginal culture has been lost as a result of colonialism.
The speaker’s allusions to the corroboree are similarly important. A corroboree is a traditional dance or gathering within Aboriginal culture. The speaker says that they “are the corroboree,” but at the end of the poem mourns the fact that the corroboree, too, is “gone.” Implicitly, these most important aspects of Aboriginal culture—along with the land to which this culture is inextricably tied—have been destroyed.
The speaker also refers to Dream Time, an important concept in Aboriginal culture. Dream Time refers to the beginning of time, when, in Aboriginal thought, everything was created by the spirits and the ancestors. Traditions, ceremonies, and understandings of the sacred are believed to have come from this time, passed down by the ancestors of the modern-day Aboriginal people. Importantly, too, Dream Time is thought to have never ended and to be ongoing, as modern-day Aboriginal people, too, participate in it.
In the poem, the speaker says that they are the “wonder tales of Dream Time,” referring to the stories and legends passed down over generations. This allusion is important in the poem, because it shows the speaker asserting the unique dignity, sacredness, and meaning of their culture. In the face of the destructiveness of colonialism, the speaker shows that Aboriginal culture is deeply rich and profoundly meaningful.
Finally, the speaker alludes to “Gaphembah Hill” when describing the lightning striking within this landscape. This allusion to a specific local landmark shows the connection between the speaker’s identity and this specific setting. By naming something so local, the speaker shows their knowledge of this place, which has been passed down over thousands of years.