Aunty Carolyn Briggs came aboard Pelican1 for our journey with 26 kids and adults from VACCA (Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency). We also had two teachers from the Aboriginal School, Ballerrt Mooroop College in Glenroy The day did not feel particularly promising and I had been disappointed on waking to the sound of rain. Events planned in Nature almost never go as envisioned but when you are giving young people an opportunity to connect with the middle of the Bay you hope for brilliant sunshine and frolicking dolphins.
I needn't have worried. As soon as the kids jumped aboard and the first exited sounds started bouncing around the boat, I knew we were in for a great trip. We also had an Indigenous Ranger from Parks Vic on board, Alex Corte, who was also involved in Two Bays last year. Aunty Carolyn, a Boonwurrung elder, has been involved since the first program.
The day involved a sail to Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary from our berth at Shed 2 in the Yarra estuary. On arrival Aunty Carolyn shared the Boonwurrung stories of the Bay stressing the lessons that are embedded in them for the kids to understand the concepts of Caring and understanding Country, being cared for by their elders and caring for each other in turn. Last year Deidre King, one of the participants, made a digital story of a similar trip. This year Deidre King filmed a full interview with Carolyn, which we plan to upload very soon.
Alex Corte also spoke to the young people about his experience of being a ranger with Parks. He loves his work and spoke of the time he took to settle into the position. He told them which pathway to follow if they were serious in following up being a ranger as a career and encouraged them to think seriously about it. Parks Victoria has a very active Indigenous recruitment program and currently around 8% of its staff are Aboriginal. Alex pointed out that the roles within the organisation are very diverse and career possibilities were certainly not just tied to Ranger work.
After the talks and lunch we all jumped into the tea-coloured waters of the Bay. The water is murky with the recent rains and I will be writing much more about that in the next blog post. Even under a grey sky it was a warm day and the water felt fantastic. The kids had a wonderful swim and then after another discussion about the Marine Sanctuary we had to head for home.