Narooma’s Connecting to Country programme, showcasing indigenous culture, crafts and dreaming tales, has been a red-hot winner, with the full programme of events for December and January selling out.
Fourteen workshops, tours, walks and experiences have been delighting participants who are enjoying the chance to try their hand at basket weaving and traditional art and dance or to join Elders on walks, boat trips and e-bike rides while learning about Yuin history, heritage and Dreaming stories.
The programme, curated by Southbound Escapes, and delivered in collaboration with First Nations tour operators, the NSW Government, and the Eurobodalla Shire Council, has exceeded expectations according to Southbound’s Director, Sally Bouckley.
‘We have been overwhelmed at the response to Connecting to Country,’ Sally said. ‘Our aim was to create awareness of Yuin culture and to raise the profile of some of the outstanding Indigenous experiences available on the South Coast. I think it’s safe to say that’s mission accomplished!
‘It’s fantastic that 16 participants have been able to participate in each experience for free, thanks to a portion of a $287,582 grant under the NSW Government’s Reconnecting Regional NSW - Community Events Program.
‘But the best part is that these Indigenous-led tours are going to be available into the future. Our aim was always to provide ongoing support for Indigenous tourism providers and I’m delighted that some of our Yuin partners have already had repeat paid bookings through our collaborative platform.
‘We are lucky enough to be working with some of the most well respected Yuin Nation Elders and Knowledge Holders in the region, and this programme has been a great chance for them to share compelling, authentic, immersive Indigenous experiences with locals and visitors alike.
‘My hope is that we can secure additional seed funding to expand this programme across the South Coast and make these experiences available all year round.’
Patricia Ellis, from Minga Aboriginal Cultural Services, who led a sold-out traditional basket weaving workshop, said the Connecting to Country initiative was not only creating employment for local Yuin people, it was also making an important contribution to raising awareness in the community and building respect for Aboriginal culture.
‘Sally’s passion and commitment for profiling Aboriginal experiences is amazing,’ Patricia said. ‘This programme has given us a chance to showcase our traditional skills and knowledge which is something we never had before.’
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the State Government’s Community Events Program is supporting the events and hospitality sectors across the regions.
“The past three years have been difficult, with many unpredictable events people have been disconnected from family and friends. We want to see communities thriving and businesses benefitting from more local activities, events and opportunities in the regions,” Mr Toole said.
For those who missed out on these hugely popular events, Southbound Escapes is taking enquiries for bookings at a later date. Email email@example.com or call on 0407 106 392.
Above: One of the region's popular walks is Aboriginal Yuin Nation guide, Patricia Ellis, giving an insight into Aboriginal culture, history and Dreamtime stories unique to this area on a two hour walk along the stunning Bingi Dreaming Track which is part of the Eurobodalla National Park.
The tour is experiential that has participants taking part in a traditional smoking ceremony, learning about bush food plants, their properties and uses. Patricia's insights enable a participant to deep dive into First Nations agricultural practice, with an introductions to native food and medicine plants, plus bush tucker fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, leaves.
Patricia belongs to the Brinja Yuin and Walbanga; Dhurga speaking people of Moruya.