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[speaks in Gathang language]

NARRATOR: In the beginning the great spirit Biami created Birpai country, the sea, the mountains and the rivers, the plants and animals. Biami created the Birpai people. Birpai country was a land of plenty. Blue seas, golden coastlines, clear rivers and lush forests. Biami provided us with everything we needed. We cared for the land and it cared for us.

MAN READING FROM JAMES COOK'S JOURNAL: Saturday, 12th May 1770. Winds southerly, a gentle breeze. We saw several smokes a little inland, the first we’ve seen since we’ve been upon the coast. At sunset we had in sight three remarkable large high hills lying continuous and not far from the shore. As these hills bore some resemblance to each other we called them the Three Brothers.

NARRATOR: The strange boat was a sign that our way of life was about to change forever. It wasn’t long before the strangers were moving through Birpai country.

MAN READING FROM JOHN OXLEY'S JOURNAL: October 11, 1818. The natives in the vicinity of the port appeared very numerous. They were all handsome well-made men, stout in their persons showing evident signs of good living. They kept on the other side of the harbour and seemed by no means inclined to have closer communication with us.

NARRATOR: These strangers don’t live like Birpai people and they weren’t just visiting. They were here to stay. The forests were disappearing. Birpai people became sick with strange illnesses and many died. We could no longer walk the land in freedom. We tried to preserve our country and protect our families. We were forced to live a different way. They forced us onto missions and reserves. They took our land, our culture, our language, our spirit, our lives. Then they took our children. We had to fight back.

CHANT: Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

KEVIN RUDD: Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land ... we apologise, especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander … the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

NARRATOR: Birpai people are strong. Birpai people have survived. Birpai culture has survived.

[speaks in Gathang language]

We are once again teaching our language, sharing our culture, sharing our land, the land of our ancestors, Birpai land. Birpai Barray (Birpai Country).

Watch the Birpai Barray animation

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