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An Hour With Paul Vandenbergh

By Saturday 11 February 2023No Comments

The gentle dance of flames above a campfire is a mesmerising thing.

Sit long enough and you’ll witness fervent flashes of heat become embers glowing soft against the night sky.

It is a conversational sweet spot that Wirangu/Kokatha man Pauly Vandenbergh knows well.

“Fire and conversation… that’s part of our culture,” he says.

“Conversation happens when people are sitting around a fire.”

At six-foot-four, Pauly is a towering presence.

His eyes burn with intensity and his words are steady and thoughtful.

He’s not one to mince words but deep conversation is important to Pauly.

Circles are, too. The two are intrinsically linked.

“For Aboriginal people, everything is about circles,” he says.

“That’s the connecter; there’s nothing square… no straight lines.

“It’s all about sitting around a circle.”

Pauly thinks in big, bold, inclusive circles.

When he and business partner Damien Smith launched Munda Wines in late 2022, it was never going to be straightforward.

As one of the few majority-Indigenous owned wine brands in the country, they weren’t going to shy away from difficult conversations. In fact, they welcome them.

To read the full story – an 8-page feature article – subscribe to the print edition of WBM here.

Download the digital version of the January-February 2023 issue here.

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