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Engaging with Traditional Owners on the ELTHAM Nature Reserve

25 January 2024

Students in Years 3 – 6 get to take part in Welcome to Country and smoking ceremonies in the College nature reserve. In winter during 2023 this was our ceremony.

An Aboriginal Elder, Perry, told us about his Indigenous heritage, about his father, who was the first indigenous AFL player for St Kilda, and about how his father was raised on Coranderrk Station, a reserve for Aboriginal people in the past.

It was an eye-opening experience for us all about the struggles of First Nations people. Perry was handed down the role as Elder from his father after he passed. He explained about the Stolen Generation, and how some of his relatives were separated from their families, and about the missions that the Aboriginal people were forced to live in. Perry told us about the artifacts uncovered beneath the soil and the different kinds of materials the weapons were made of.

While he performed the smoking ceremony, he showed us the special wooden bowl where the smoking leaves and branches are burned. We could smell the eucalyptus coming off in the waves of smoke. Perry told us about an Aboriginal woman who was the last person to be born in the mission. She stayed living in the closed mission because she had raised all her children there and was viewed as an Elder who owned the land. She outlived all of her late family members, and lived to 103. Wurundjeri people were almost wiped out because of many new illnesses that were brought into the country by immigrants.

Perry explained everything so well, and really made our studies in Humanities and History feel so much more authentic. We are all so thankful for the opportunity to listen to Perry talk, he explained his interesting heritage so well, and we were all hooked the entire time.

Isabella, Dhruv and George 
2023 Junior School Captains