Ella Noah Bancroft is an Australian born artist, storyteller, teacher, director and mentor. Her Indigenous heritage has played a key role in her story. Her ancestral links have given her a platform for expression within the arts, a different perspective on life and a capacity to teach all races, ages and sexes. She is passionate about re-wilding the world and the feminine force. Traveller and free spirit, Ella is mostly always on the move or looking to be, with a keen desire to promote change around her and within herself. Ella writes from her direct experiences with the world around her, she writes in many forms and writes to inspire, evoke thought and create debate within the brains of her audience. We recently caught up with Ella to discuss connecting to land and people.

As a Bundjalung woman based in Northern NSW on a mission for planet and people, how important do you think it is that people are connected to the land and people in which they live and explore?
I believe that our direct link with the destruction of the earth has to do with our lack of connection the natural world and each other. The more alone I feel the more I tend to consume externally. The more disconnected I am with nature, the more unhealthy I feel in my body. Speaking from my own experiences I feel deeply about inspiring other humans to reconnect with the natural world and each other. The more time I spend in nature the more I understand I am apart of her, the more I understand to release my fears and the more I learn to trust my inner knowing. There is a feeling when I am in sitting in nature, a feeling of not be alone, a feeling of unity, a coming home.

What do you believe we can do more of to be conscious and respectful of the land we visit?
Being respectful of the land. This includes acknowledging the land, asking for permission, leaving no trace and caring for the land. The most important things for me are also being mindful of how I effect the land even when I am not directly on the land. Being aware of what I buy, where I buy and how I contribute to the destruction of our planet, and I contribute. We all do. Its hard not too when you live in the system of our society.

The Northern Rivers is a spectacular region, which National Park is one of your favourites to seek time out or adventure? Any hot tips
I love Mount Jerusalem National Park, there a sense of stillness on the mountain. A sense of strength that the mountain holds that makes me feel safe. A few other magical places are Arakwal National Park, Victoria Park Nature Reserve and Brunswick Heads Nature Reserve.

One of your passions is rewilding, are there any specific projects you are currently working on or affiliated to that you can recommend to some of our community?
The Returning which is an all womens festival is a dip into rewilding. Women gathering on country to share knowledge and be together. To rewild is to remove the domestication and undo the patriarchy placed upon all of us but especially our women. The worst thing they ever did was separate women with white picket fences.  This event creates a new paradigm using the old way of living and being. I also love cooking with bush food, I love to cook and I do catering for special events with bush tukka which is a way to rewild and be sustainable. To use what we have in our own back yard as well as foraging foods.

As mentor and founder of “The Returning” can you tell us a bit more about the concept of this Women’s Festival and the importance of women supporting women?
The Returning is an all women’s one-day event. Exploring movement, rituals, wildness and wellness, along with panel discussions on topics that need addressing as women. We come together as sisters to learn from elders, mothers and maidens. Everyone’s voice is valid and allowed. The event is meant for all women, from all walks of life. Created as a social enterprise, we pride ourselves in being the bridge between different women’s worlds. A portion of every ticket sold goes to allowing our scholarship holders a place on the day. Over 50% of our attendees are on scholarship or exchange tickets. Our scholarships are given to single mothers, low-socioeconomic woman, Indigenous woman & refugees. We believe women are the backbone of our society and supporting each other is key to our success. Let us remove the old patterns of competition to come together to hold each other up.

RETURNING to wholeness, to nature, to knowledge, to ourselves and to one another. The Returning is open to all women and targets those interested in health, wellness, nature knowledge, reuniting with their body and more broadly the social responsibility of women and the role we play in the local and global environments. This festival will offer a range of workshops (rediscover ritual and wellness), a self-care tent, along with panels with wise women and a kids camp plus so much more. I feel so strongly about bringing all women into this festival as I feel we cannot just have one type of woman, we must build the bridge and allow all women to walk into the spaces of health and wellness and healing. This is the way we heal the earth and each other.

Ella will be hosting the next instalment of the Returning this Saturday the 19th of October 2019 in the Byron Shire, you can purchase tickets to attend here.