The Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC) are participating in the annual Great Pelican Count at Sperm Whale Head on Sunday 7 April, and the invitation is open to interested members of the public to join GLaWAC aboard the Lady Jodie and help count Pelicans.

GLaWAC’s Gippsland Lakes Coordinating Committee (GLCC) Coordinator, Andy Booth said the boat trip was a great opportunity to join the Count and visit an important site at the Gippsland Lakes. 

“The Pelican is a totemic species for the Gunaikurnai people. It’s part of the creation story about Borun the Pelican and Tuk the Musk Duck, and GLaWAC’s involvement in the Great Pelican Count is culturally important for our staff,” said Mr Booth.

The Great Pelican Count is an annual event organised by BirdLIfe Australia and involves citizen scientists of all ages recording the Australian Pelican population on the same day and at the same time across the Gippsland Lakes.

“Registrations for this year’s Count closed last month, but you can still participate by joining GLaWAC, but you’ll need to book your spot quickly,” said Mr Booth.

“Not only is a great opportunity to get out on the water and enjoy the Gippsland Lakes, but it’s also a chance to visit Sperm Whale Head and see the great work the GLaWAC crews have done to upgrade the visitor facilities.”

Bookings essential and limited to a maximum of 30 participants. To book contact Andy Booth via email at andyb@glawac or by calling 5152 5100.

Gunaikurnai creation story 

The Gunaikurnai creation starts with Borun, the pelican, who traversed our Country from the mountains in the north to the place called Tarra Warackel in the south. As Borun travelled down the mountains, he could hear a constant tapping sound, but he couldn’t identify the sound or where it was coming from. Tap tap tap.

He traversed the cliffs and mountains and forged his way through the forests. Tap tap tap. He followed the river systems across our Country and created songlines and storylines as he went. Tap tap tap.

He walked on alone and when he got down into the deeper inlets near Tarra Warackel (now known as Port Albert) he put down his canoe and, much to his surprise, there was a woman in it. She was Tuk, the musk duck. Borun was very happy to see Tuk, and they married and became the mother and father of the five clans, the creators of Gunaikurnai.