The project Two Bays has been incredibly fortunate to work with Boonwurrung Elder Carolyn Briggs. Her participation and support has allowed the project to develop an immersive model for learning and share the deep-time cultural reality of Nairm (Port Phillip Bay) and Mar-an-bilk (Western Port). Over the last seven years we have taken out countless Indigenous and Non-Indigenous students and people from a great range of backgrounds out into Boonwurrung Sea Country on Pelican1. Carolyn and other Elders such as Aunty Fay Stewart Muir and Aunty Pam Pederson have been on board as we have worked with scientists exploring the close connections between the deep-time stories of the Boonwurrung and the current research into the shape, bathymetry and working processes of the Bays.
Carolyn Briggs has worked together with Harry for many years and they have teamed up for Two Bays. Their work together has inspired the Two Bays curriculum, which brings together the science and cultural knowledge of the bays in a terrific synthesis of ancient knowledge and science.
From the opening page I quote:
'But this is no ordinary story and Port Phillip Bay has not always resembled the body of water it does today. The 1950 square kilometres of land covered by salt water today was once a wide valley through which the Yarra River snaked its way along from the heights of the current day city of Melbourne out to the area now known as Port Phillip heads, where a giant water fall cascaded down into the ocean waters of Bass Strait, which 10,000 years ago was known by the indigenous name of 'Birrarang', meaning 'river of mist and shadows', due to the huge spray that was created as the water dropped into the sea below.' Andrew Vance
It is always a privilege to watch these two master story tellers interweave their stories and to watch the impact and sense of connection they create in their listeners. Two Bays has partnered with VACCA over the last seven years and we often have children on board with Aboriginal heritage but no or very little experience of their own rich cultural inheritance. Days on board have often involved being immersed in both scientific and cultural knowledge, and often discovering family connections. Of course, often the favourite part of the day's activities, is being able to jump off the boat into the sea!