Author Dr Johanna Kijas holds up a new book containing stories of the Yuraygir National Park. Behind her are some of the contributors: Fox Laurie (Yaegl), Andrew Lugg (NPWS), Marie Preston, Ron Heron (Yaegl) and Cecil Laurie (Gumbaingirr).
Author Dr Johanna Kijas holds up a new book containing stories of the Yuraygir National Park. Behind her are some of the contributors: Fox Laurie (Yaegl), Andrew Lugg (NPWS), Marie Preston, Ron Heron (Yaegl) and Cecil Laurie (Gumbaingirr).

Stories from Yuraygir land

THE Yuraygir National Park stretching along the Clarence Coast is a land full of many stories, including those told by local Aboriginal people, settlers, farmers, fishermen, miners, campers, historians and residents of the Clarence.

Yesterday a book compiling some of those memories and stories was launched on the banks of Lake Arragan, with many of its contributors on hand to share in the significant occasion.

The book, titled There were always people here: a history of Yuraygir National Park, was commissioned by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and written by Dr Johanna Kijas.

Dr Kijas said the book was made up of two projects merged together – the indigenous stories from the area and the non-indigenous stories.

“We can all look at the country and all of us have a different story about it and different perspectives about it,” Dr Kijas said.

“So hopefully that’s what’s encapsulated in this book.

“But this is only the start.”

Once she started researching and talking to people, Dr Kijas said she realised the book was just the tip of the iceberg and there were plenty more stories to tell.

Yaegl elder Uncle Ron Heron gave the welcome to country and shared some of his stories of the land.

He spoke of when he was a kid and his family would go worming and collect pipis and shellfish on the beaches between Black Rock and the Wooli River, also picking bell flowers, fox tail feathers and flannel flowers to sell.

“That would be our picture fares for the pictures at Yamba,” he said.

“That was all part of growing up.”

Uncle Ron also said when the flannel flowers came out in bloom they’d know the oysters and pipis would be nice and fat.

“All of Aboriginal people know this from my age back, but not many people know this from my age forward, so it’s important these stories come out and are continued to be told and not lost forever,” he said.

“We have to look at the country, be careful with it and it will look after us in the long term.”

Many more stories covering a wide range of topics are told in There were always people here: a history of Yuraygir National Park.

Copies are $11 and can be purchased from the NPWS office at Level 3, 49 Victoria Street, Grafton, or online at www.shop.nsw.gov.au.



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