Sea country connections

People on the Reef – Sea Country Charter

Reef Magic Education was proud to support the annual Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation Yirrganydji Community Sea Country Charter on Saturday 23 June. The charter to Saxon Reef and Michaelmas Cay showcased the Cultural significance to Sea Country for the Yirrganydji community.

“We are the Yirrganydji Traditional Owners, pama kulpul -parra (saltwater Aboriginal people), of the Yirrgay dialect, spoken along the coast from Pana Wangal (Cairns Trinity Inlet) to Diju (Port Douglas) in Northern Queensland. Our customary knowledge, practices, lores and identities as Traditional Owners are inter-connected with Pulmpa (Land) and Kulpul (sea) country”.

The passengers on the vessel included the Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation, Directors, Yirrganydji Rangers and dancers, Experience Co Chief Operating Officer, representatives from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Department of Environment and Science, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Tourism Tropical North Qld, local school teachers.

Also invited to attend this special event, were four representatives from the Talowa First Nation People of California. Rosa Lavcci; a Marine Biologist and Jay Tuk Steinruck the Tribal Resource specialist explained that they received a grant to travel to Australia to come and learn from the Yirrganydji Ranger programs. They want to set up a First Nation program back in California to look after their Land and Sea precinct. Jay Tuk Steinruck noted “there are more First Nation People in California than in any other state of America, we plan on setting up an ocean monitoring program in northern California and wanted to see first hand how the Yirrganydji community care for the Great Barrier Reef”.

The Yirrganydji community explained their role as custodians and vision for their Sea Country to include;

  • Fostering protection and conservation and sustainability of the reef, resources and Sea Country
  • Continuing, preserving, expressing and sharing cultural values, knowledge and practices including the management of cultural sites;
  • Being recognised and respected as Traditional Owners of Country;
  • Benefiting from country and creating business, employment and other economic opportunities for Yirrganydji people;
  • Promoting awareness and education on the importance of social, cultural and environmental values of sea country;
  • Being actively engaged, building partnerships and working together with others to efficiently and effectively manage sea country;
  • Preserving qualities for future generations and Yirrganydji people to enjoy their sea country.

Reef Magic Education specialise in place-based learning on the Great Barrier Reef; connecting people, sea country and learning.  Projects allow for students, their teachers, pre-service teachers, academics, science undergraduates, marine biologists, researchers and sea country rangers to work together, allowing for participatory action and the sharing of stories. Earlier this year Reef Magic Cruises and the Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation and Yirrganydji Ranger signed a memorandum of understanding outlining the importance and respect for traditional culture and business opportunities for the Yirrganydji people.

We were also proud to introduce Malik Thaiday as the first employed Indigenous Education Ranger on the Great Barrier Reef representing Reef Magic Cruises and the Traditional Owners of the Yirrganydji community. This position has resulted in many years of working collaboratively together, building relationships, mutual trust and respect.

Malik Thaiday