Last week some of our Indigenous students joined with those from the 7-10 colleges of Bendigo to spend a “Day on Country” with Jida Gulpilil at Lake Boort.

Boort sits close to the boundary of three language groups. It offered rich food resources along with many other materials useful for tools, dwellings and cooking. It appears to have been a significant inter‐tribal meeting place.

Students were welcomed by participating in a smoking ceremony as they stood before a burial site of Jida’s ancestors. Jida explained his deep connection to, and respect for, those buried at this site. Some remains had been returned from museums to this resting place. He feels it is his responsibility to continue caring for this place as his mother’s ancestors did before him.

Lake Boort is one of only two places in Victoria with such a high density and diversity of recorded scarred trees and cultural scars, demonstrating the many ways Aboriginal people used bark. There are trees with scars from cutting of bark for canoes, shields, for drying possum skins, and as a food, water or baby carrier (coolamon).

The day concluded with in-depth story telling around Jida’s collection of artefacts and implements most of which he has made himself from local timber, stone and rock.

He demonstrated how stories carry important knowledge and wisdom from one generation to the next and how singing helps us remember language. Jida continually linked his message to the importance of staying in school and striving to achieve the highest level of education possible.

Another great outcome from the day was to hear the student’s remark that they had made some new friends on this trip from other colleges which means when they reach BSSC they will already know one another and have this wonderful shared experience as a point of connection.

A huge thank you to Daniel Rees from Yo-Bendigo who has financed this great opportunity for our young people and also to Weeroona College for the use of their bus on the day.