WARREN FOSTER: Captain Cook, when he sailed up the coast, he’s got his diary and he writ down all his stories about his travels, yeah. And where he’d been, and we also have our stories but it’s not written down. We seen him when he sailed in the Endeavour, yeah, and the old people remembered him and they handed stories down. We were taken to them places and shown them stories.
Where we are, we’re in Djiringani Yuin country and we go two sacred mountains. Gulaga – she holds a lot of creation stories and Biamanga, where our laws and ceremonies come from. And being where we are, with our two mountains, we had to allow other different mobs to come down, come through country and go and do ceremonies. There was the big bunaans, corroborees, and there would have been abundance of food, people.
When Captain Cook, James Cook, sailed up the coast there, we watched him and when our old people seen him they was wondering, what is that? Minjajin (look there). What’s that? ’Cos we didn’t see something so big and white swimming on water.
And the only big thing we see swimming on the water is birds, budjans. And he was shaped sort of like gurung-gubba, the pelican. So our old people thought he might have been one of them big budjans coming back, back from Dreamtime. Because when we talk about Dreamtime we talk about it as one time. And when we do ceremonies we go back into that one time.
And all the old people they all started lighting fires, putting the smoke signals up, to look out here, minjajin. Yanaga (walk) minjajin. To look out in the gadhu (ocean). What's that? Big pelican. Now with the story of the pelican, gurung -gubba, he's a real greedy fella. So when you're fishing, he'll come and steal your fish. And he'll keep on taking your fish. So you had to watch him. So just the same as us watching him when we're fishing, we had to keep an eye out on that boat. Because if he's a big pelican we don't know what he's going to do, yeah. He might take off that water, come in and scoop, scoop all us up, all the people. Little did we know that eventually this big bird would sail in and he did eventually scoop up everything and steal everything off us.
Cook sailed past and he named our sacred Mother Mountain, Mount Dromedary. And dromedary is a camel. All our mob, no matter where we are, we look at the mountain and we always see a woman laying down. Even when you're out on the ocean there, you see a woman. The real name for the mountain is Gulaga. Gulaga means Mother Mountain. She gave birth to all the Yuin people. Gulaga to us is as sacred as Uluru is to them Mutitjulu mob out there in the desert. If there was no mountain, Gulaga, there wouldn't be any Yuin people. Not only the Yuin people, but human beings. That's where we come from and when we take our journey, that's where we'll be going. For a man to be sailing up the coast and look at our Mother Mountain and call her a camel is the biggest insult for a lot of our people anyway, or for me anyway.
How would I describe my connection to land? I'm like this tree. I'm rooted down in the ground. Done ceremony for the land. I am the land. I'm not part of it, I am it.
That pelican, he did eventually come in and scoop up everything and take the lands, steal all the children. Put his name on the mountain. One thing he couldn't take away from us was that connectedness that we have to our Mother Mountain, Gulaga. That goes for all the Yuin people up and down the coast.