Sea Country

We see no distinction between the land and the sea.
It is all a part of our Country.
But our connection to the coastal and marine parts of our Country is rarely recognised, so we need to be clear about how important it is to us.

Gunaikurnai people have occupied, used and managed coastal land and sea environments for many thousands of years. These include those areas that were dry land before the current sea level stabilised about 5,000 years ago.

Our relationship with these cultural landscapes continues, even where the evidence of our previous occupation now lies beneath the ocean.

Coastal areas were among the most densely populated parts of our Country. Rich in both terrestrial and marine food sources, they provided good places for our old people to live, camp and hunt, and the launching place for expeditions out to sea to gather seafood. Our ancestors would travel to islands in bark canoes and harvest fish and coastal species at levels that did not disrupt the natural balance.

Stronger involvement in the management of sea country can open up opportunities for improving economic outcomes for our mob, while better protecting our cultural heritage and improving environmental outcomes.

With a longstanding connection to managing the coast and sea, we can provide valuable perspectives to the coastal management programs.

In addition, we need stronger involvement in the protection of coastal and inundated cultural values within and beyond our Aboriginal Title areas.

Reclaiming our rights to use our sea as a resource is fundamental to recognising our ongoing connection with sea country.

Nanjet to Mallacoota
– Sea Country Indigenous Protection Area

In 2022, GLaWAC signed an agreement with the Federal Government to start the process of establishing a Sea Country Indigenous Protection Area (IPA) from Nanjet, east of Wilsons Promontory, to Mallacoota, on the Vic/NSW Border.

The first step in the IPA process is engagement with any families or clans who may have an interest in the draft coastal area identified.

Families and clans are encouraged to register their interest in participating in the development of a plan.

Further engagement, including with government agencies and commercial operators, will also occur.

GLaWAC is partnering with Monash University and the Arthur Rylah Institute to undertake specific research into culturally significant areas and species that occur along the coast. In consultation with Far East groups, this work can be extended east of the Snowy, and along the far east coast.