Workshop series at Hutt Bay concludes with Boandik culture and unusual reef creatures

We recently held the final two workshops in a series at Hutt Bay; one on local Aboriginal culture and the second an intertidal reef exploration.

First up, on Friday the 11th of March, we hosted Aunty Michelle for two sessions on Boandik customs, first with students and parents from the local home-school network followed by a session with NGT volunteers. Each group was welcomed in Bunganditj language, and Aunty Michelle shared the story of Annie Brice, her Boandik great-grandmother who grew up around Penola in the mid-1800s.

We were also shown Aunty Michelle’s family┬áKurumu Tutu (possum skin cloak) which has Annie’s story burnt into it. Each group was shown artefacts which were used by Boandik people and we talked about the seasons and how they may be different in different areas of Country. Aunty Michelle also shared Bunganditj language with the groups, talking about different animals and showed us simple things like how babies could be carried around in Thurang.

Aunty Michelle and the Home School group. Photo: Charlie Furr

The workshops covered similar content but did vary slightly. At the conclusion of the morning session with the home-school network, students practiced fire lighting in the traditional way, using grass tree (Xanthorrhoea sp.) flower spikes – with varying success! The volunteer group was treated to Aunty Michelle singing the Whale Song, a traditional Boandik chant that was sung to invite everyone to gather together and feast when a whale washed up on the shore.

We heard from both groups that they learnt so much from Aunty Michelle, and that it was a wonderful experience.

Two weeks later, the final event in the series was held nearby at the Cape Douglas reef, again with a group form the local home-school network.

As we explored the reef we chatted about the huge variety of sea creatures we found along the way. With the tide being very low at 0.1 m we saw an amazing number of Eight Armed Sea Stars (Meridiastra caloar; you can read about them in a previous post here). We also saw quite a few Tulip Shells (Fusinus australis and Pleuroploca australasia), and Elephant Snails (Scutus antipodes), Pebble Crabs, Sea Anemones, Chitons, and a Brittle Star.

By far the most exciting find was a Blue Ringed Octopus (Hapalochlaena maculosa) which are usually hidden during the day and the first sighting for everyone in the group, including the leaders Jess and Rose. You can read more about the Blue Ringed Octopus and watch a some footage Rose took here.

Blue-Ringed Octopus showing its bright blue rings. Photo: Jess Bourchier.

The two events were a wonderful way to complete the project. Thank you to the home-school network and volunteers who attended the workshops.

The Hutt Bay Wetland Reserve workshop and working bees project is supported by
the Coast Protection Board through the Coastal Community Participation Grant.

Jess Bourchier