Aunty Pam Pederson (Yorta Yorta Elder) has been on board Pelican1 many times and she jumped on again to welcome recent arrivals to Australia, who were sailing out to learn about the local Port Phillip Bay marine environment.
All together we had people from 17 different countries on the boat.
The day has become an annual part of the Two Bays project in partnership with Parks Victoria and organisations such as the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre and New Hope. Some of the participants had already taken part in the Park Vic Bilingual Tour Guides program and Amy Mallett, Community Engagement from Parks was on board to encourage others to link in with Parks Victoria and learn about the local natural environment.
Amy Mallet introducing the day.
Everyone was asked to get to know the person beside them and then try to find something that they both have in common.
Amanda Franklin showing everyone where the sanctuary sits on the Port Phillip Bay map.
We travelled around to Jawbone Marine Sanctuary and divers from Parks got in the water to again film the underwater world to share with Parks rangers talking about what was seen above, as it was projected onto Pelican TV.
Mark Rodrigue from Parks Vic, talked the marine park system and the ecology of the bay. Most of the participants could follow what was shared and if there were language difficulties, they could just enjoy the pictures of the underwater denizens of Jawbone.
Pictured Joseph and Mazin from Iraq, who both work to help settle refugees into life in Melbourne. They both gave me some deeper insight into contemporary events in the Middle East and in particular Syria.
We journeyed further to Point Cooke and stopped for lunch. Delicious food had been prepared by guests on board, from their home countries and culture shared through the universal language of culinary delights. Nurcihan from Turkey, brought a salad made from things in her garden and talked about how often newcomers to Australia ate many of the plants that are considered weeds here. One example she used was purslane.
One of the younger participants shared a story of how he came to Australia. He had journeyed with his family in a boat as long as Pelican is wide from Indonesia to Christmas Island, jam- packed with 60 souls. His family came from Iran and he acted as a translator for his Mum and Dad, though his Dad's English was good. He was filled with enthusiasm for Pelican1 and everything he learnt that day on board. It seems Australia is the richer for these resilient people being here and they are certainly determined to make the most of their new homeland.
The bay is a big playground for yachts and we found ourselves in the middle of a race.
We returned to Williamstown with what felt like a boat load of friends. Everyone had enjoyed the day and learnt much about the local marine life and the passionate people that give voice to the environment. The lively group on board and the beautiful weather all added up to make this one of the magic days of the Two Bays program