Our Indigenous students from Years 5-12 attended the second On Country Tour our school has run, this year to the Wandi Wandian (Yuin) Nation on the South Coast of NSW.
It was lovely to have our Year 9 student Wol Wellington’s family welcome us onto Wandi Wandian Nation, and host us at the Jerringa Aboriginal Mission at Orient Point (near Nowra for the afternoon) where we heard from Wol’s nan and elder Naboo and then we travelled to Callala Bay where we were taken on a personal tour of the Indigenous scarred trees and poles by creator Uncle Noel Wellington who described how he made each piece and what their significance meant to his people.
The next day we travelled to Huskisson in Jervis Bay to hear from Indigenous presenter Raymond Timberey (our own Gawura Bus Driver Uncle Bill Russel’s nephew). Raymond took us on the most fascinating bush walk outlining all the different bush foods and medicines that were available to Indigenous people for thousands of years.
The information was fascinating and showed how Indigenous people lived and worked the land for their own health for over 80 thousand years. This included how a kangaroo tail or mindo was used for friction to starts a fire, how coolamon is made from the bark of trees, black wattle tree can be for damper by crushing up the seeds on the end of the leaves and they also house witchety grubs and bracken fern can be used for itchy bites to stop irritation.
Uncle Bill said that afternoon, “I was proud of my nephew today. Raymond did a great job teaching culture and protocols to our mob”.
In the afternoon, in choppy, wet conditions students had a two hour cruise around Jervis Bay with wonderful cultural knowledge shared by Wol’s nan Naboo. She spoke with passion about their own land around the Beecroft Peninsula. We had several jurragong (dolphins) swim by our vessel.
Our final day we visited Nowra Public School where we had the honour of hearing from two amazing elders from the Aboriginal Educational Consultative Group (AECG – Shoalhaven Branch). Uncle Sonny Simms spoke to us about the Stolen Generation and how he was taken from his home in La Perouse as a young boy and sent by train to Bomaderry. This happened to so many families across Australia and his reflections and personal story was moving and powerful.
Aunty Ruth Simms (Sonny’s sister and also the longest serving Aboriginal Education Officer for Department of Education Schools in NSW) then spoke to us about Indigenous servicemen and woman who served in war time for Australia. Aunty Ruth also spoke about Indigenous technologies and in particular the boomerang. She showed us how it was not an accident that the bottom of the boomerang is flat yet the top has a curved surface which helps it fly and stay in the air.
As is the case each term after term our Gawura students are actively engaged in both academic and cultural learning. This is what makes our Gawura school unique.
This On Country Tour, like last year to Wiradjuri Nation, was been simply amazing. The students were wonderful and respectful to all the elders that we met and were fully engaged in each presentation and yarn. Staff commented how lovely it was to see the senior college students engage with our middle and primary school students. All students from Years 5-12 had a wonderful time and we would like to thank our donors and sponsors who helped make it happen.