Umbarra book launched by Bermagui students

ON Thursday (July 24, 2014) Bermagui Public School had their official launch of a book they have written titled “The home of Umbarra - A Bermagui River and Wallaga Lake story” that promotes the beauty and richness of the Bermagui River and Wallaga Lake catchment through the eyes of young writers.

Bermagui Public School year 5 and 6 students along with their teachers Korin Clark and Rosemary Prior researched, wrote and proof read the booklet which was published under the ‘Protect Our Future – Protect Our River” book initiative that started in 2011 that is funded and supported by South East Local Land Services.

The book initiative involves getting the students out in the country exploring the Bermagui River and Wallaga Lake catchment with cultural heritage experts, environmental specialists and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to study the catchment’s natural resources and Aboriginal heritage.

The students were shown how to weave a rope from lomandra and how to carve a hook out of an abalone shell.

They were taught how Aboriginal people utilise the natural resources around them and why these things should be protected and conserved.

At the launch of the booklet South East Local Land Services team leader Sue Ann Nicol acknowledged the Yuin people and paid respect to the Elders both past, present and future.  

Karen Lee Senior Land Services Officer for Aboriginal Communities, who oversaw the production of the booklet said how the booklet helped people to see the land through Aboriginal eyes, giving people the opportunity to look and understand together.

“There is an old Chinese proverb that says, ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’,” Ms Lee said.

“Similar lessons can be learnt from the ancient art of Aboriginal fish hook making,” she said.

“If we teach our children to make a hook and just keep chipping away at the shell, chipping all the bits that don’t need to be there until there is a hook, then they can catch a really great fish.

“This is what Bermagui School have done with this wonderful book, chipped away at all that didn’t need to be there and in the end they had a great book,” she said.

Special guest at the book launch was Bega Valley Shire Council mayor Bill Taylor who said on the back of the book “Bermagui is not only the home of Umburra and the Yuin people, it is the northern gateway to Bega Valley Shire.

“Our shire is rich in Aboriginal history and heritage and this book is another important step in helping all of us to understand and respect this heritage,” he said.

Bermagui Public School principal, Mr Neil Rutherford then thanked all the people that helped in making the book come to fruition including Nick and Erica Dibden who opened up their farm to the students and let them try all the delicious cheeses and milk produced from the farm.

The year 5 and 6 students were then presented with a certificate and a copy of the finished book, it was the first time they had got to see it in print.

Three students – Tara Clogg, Ethan Wandin and Jamie Cameron read some interesting excerpts from the booklet, before the official book signing.

The booklet is the fifth one in a series written and compiled by local public school students.

It follows The Bhunduu -The Clyde River Story by Batemans Bay Public School; The Deua- A Moruya River Story; by Moruya Public School; Ngadjung Gadhu-ya – Tuross River Story by Bodalla Public School and Noreech Nundjung - A Wagonga Inlet Story by Narooma Public School.

Copies of the book can be purchased from Bermagui Public School or the Tourist Information Centre.

The books are also on sale at local shops in the area for $10 each and all money raised goes to the school to spend on the printing of more books or Aboriginal education programs.


Thanks goes to the Bodalla Public School Year 5 and 6 students who worked in collaboration with each other and teachers – publishing-proof reading and working to a tight deadline.

Karen Lee and Sue Anne from South East Local Land Services for funding and support and giving Bermagui Public School the privilege to be part of the innovation of ‘Protect Our Future – Protect Our River’ book initiative.

Bermagui Public School teachers and staff, especially Mrs Korin Clark and Mrs Rosemary Prior for helping to put the book together.

Aboriginal Support staff Aaron Parsons and Stephen Buckley, for all their input and for organising the book launch.

Merriman’s Local Aboriginal Land Council and the South East Aboriginal Regional Management Services (SEARMS) for catering on the excursion.

Mal and Anneke Campbell for the information they provided about marine life.

Nick and Erica Dibden for welcoming the students to their farm and giving them the opportunity to taste their beautiful produce.

Cultural guides Cathy Thomas, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Max Harrison, Linda Chapman and Warren Foster for passing on their stories.

Peter Gow from Landcare for his demonstration on how to weed and care for the bush.

David Crass, biodiversity officer for his inspiring talk on the importance of biodiversity.

The Aboriginal community for supporting the students of Bermagui Public School in their creation the book.

Bega Valley Shire Council mayor Bill Taylor and Australian book author Jackie French who reviewed and commented on the back cover of the book.

Photographers – South East Local Land Services - Natalie Willoughby, Julie Ciuffetelli, Michael Fiedler and Linda Carlson.

Debra Thompson from South East Local Land Services for proof reading and Roni Coop for the fantastic graphic design.


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