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Everett Johnson, Richard Johnson, Mervyn Jukarn Johnson, Julie Ingra, Neola Savage — Gooreng Gooreng

EVERETT JOHNSON: We’re in Seventeen Seventy. This is a special place that was passed down to us through the songlines where we used to come to get freshwater, or goon from the spring here.

When Cook come to the shore here in 1770 they talked about how they were looking for freshwater, and how they wandered up to a certain area onto a slope in the bay, and they come across beeroothoo or palm trees as they called them, but in language we call them beeroothoo, in Gooreng Gooreng language. And this is what we’re looking at right now. So this is a Alexandra palm.

In his journals, he’s gone about gathering spring water from the side of the hill and I believe this is the place where he come but passed down through the songlines from my father, from grandfather, to my great, great grandfather. Can see a lot of language that remains in the landscape. We still have names that are attached to the area so we can still put them to reference for our language as well.

RICHARD JOHNSON: Sand loam, which we call Gooragan. Right throughout this area of our country there’s this white sandy loam. It provides for the right type of grasses in particular areas. In the days of our old people they controlled what grasses and what types of trees grew in a particular area.

MERVYN JUKARN JOHNSON: It’s a stringybark tree. They used to make their own canoes or dinghies and that, and this is what it looks like. It’s a canoe tree. I heard they used to go out to the reef.

EVERETT JOHNSON: Yeah that’s right.

MERVYN JUKARN JOHNSON: Well, that’s where all the fish were.

EVERETT JOHNSON: When we did the cultural heritage survey and they carbon-dated the tree it dated back over four hundred years old, this one.

JULIE INGRA: It stands out like a monument. And I marvel at our people surviving in this country till they were taken over and pushed out. Murdered. Killed. For us to survive, I give thanks to them old people. We’ve survived and we’re happy to be here today.

RICHARD JOHNSON: In different places up between here and where I live in Gladstone. There’s a lot more evidence of cultural artefacts. On salt pans, mudflats, those sorts of things. And so it tells a story about how our people were accessing the reef and those places thousands of years ago.

NEOLA SAVAGE: That there was taken just with a rock. You know the bark was taken off and used, as Merv says, to go out to the reef. They were here where we’re standing today, you know. So it’s really getting to me now that I’m here. Where my people, you know, our people are here. This is our country. Gooragan.

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