THE first ever Yuin Back to Country Celebration brought the indigenous community together to celebrate country and tradition and to look forward to the future in a positive way.
The day of celebration featuring dancing, arts and crafts, food and information stalls was held on Tilba Showground on Saturday in the shadow of the mother mountain Gulaga.
Gulaga National Park board of management chairperson Iris White said the day was absolutely brilliant and provided a much-needed boost to community and its family members young and old from all over the region with at least 300 attending.
“It was a great opportunity for people from up and down the coast to come to country, most are related and have ties to the country,” Ms White said.
“We’ve all attended too many funerals and this was a way to get together for something positive.”
The event was hosted and sponsored by the Biamanga and Gulaga National Parks Boards of Management and National Parks.
Ms White said there was a lot to celebrate the achievements of the past six years since the hand-back of management of the parks to the traditional owners.
The draft Plan of Management for the two parks had just been completed following months of community consultation by the board and currently was with the relevant minister for review.
Also being celebrated was the recent purchase of Bellbrook Farm at Tilba, which has highly significant cultural heritage values for the Yuin people.
The weather on Saturday was beautiful and highlights included all the dancing and performances by the local Gulaga Dancers and also a group of local girl dancers, as well as the Doonooch Dancers, who came down from Nowra and who have performed at previous Narooma Oyster Festival opening ceremonies.
The numbers and popularity of the event took organisers a bit by surprise and the crew from Michaels of Dalmeny including chef Michael Stokes once again rose to the occasion providing an excellent feed to the masses.
Narooma Rotary also had a busy day with their barbecue.
Ms White said there were so many people to acknowledge but it could not have happened without the support of all the staff from the Narooma National Parks and Department of Environment and Heritage office from area manager Preston Cope all the way down to the rangers and office staff.
Also providing support and getting the word out was the Katungul Aboriginal community corporation and South Eastern Aboriginal Regional Management Services (SEARMS).
The staff from the Cancer Council helped the planning subcommittee and on the day, as did Eurobodalla Shire Council community development officer Jesse White.
“We also had a brilliant team of volunteers, far too many to mention individually, who all gave their time so freely,” Ms White said.
The Yuin Back to Country Celebration was such a success and so uplifting that there will no doubt be future events, possibly once every two years, she said.