Yaegl Country Mini-Tours

We really enjoy working with Uncle Ron Heron. We get in touch with him when we have one our guided walks and arrange for him to come and meet with us at the start of the track for a cup of tea and a chat. We do this of course to try to give our walkers a taste of the long history, unique culture and landscape through which the Yuraygir Coastal walk travels. Since there are many hours to walk ahead of us, we never really get to linger and listen for very long. But we hope for long enough to get our imaginations and hearts fired up enough that we can walk along with at least a sense of the dreamings, ancestors and their interactions with Yaegl country.

Uncle Ron is a well known and well loved senior Yaegl man who grew up in the Yamba area. He has many memories of recent history through lived experience, and ancestral knowledge handed down through previous generations. Significantly, Uncle Ron has also undertaken Aboriginal Studies, has gained degrees in anthropology and archaeology, collecting many more stories as part of his thesis. He also went on to lecture at Southern Cross University (lecturing Gina in her early student days as well). He has since retired from that, but more recently was awarded a Doctor of Letters by Macquarie University in recognition of his knowledge and ongoing cooperative work on ‘bush medicines’. He is also often at ceremonial events and works with National Parks and Wildlife Service when they are undertaking excavation works or as part of their Discovery program. 

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So Uncle Ron is no stranger to imparting knowledge to audiences about Aboriginal life and cosmology in Yaegl country. And more broadly, there is undoubtedly a growing interest Aboriginal spirituality and history, and in the practical knowledge that saw Aboriginal people live so successfully for so long before Europeans arrived in this land. Aboriginal cultural tourism in northern, central and some other parts of Australia is increasingly popular, but is really in its infancy.

With all this in mind, and to find a way to continue to maintain knowledge in and about his community, Uncle Ron told us of his interest in developing local cultural tourism based around local knowledge, and to engage with young Yaegl people to develop this idea. 

Of course, to do this is not a simple matter: there are many practicalities and expenses involved in setting up and marketing a tour. But Gina suggested that to at least get something started, we could provide our mini-bus, booking system and driver (me) and run some one-off mini-tours that mimicked one of the three day tours Uncle Ron envisages, during the local annual Surfing the Coldstream Festival. Brilliant!

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Uncle Ron agreed and the more we floated the idea with others, the more it seemed like the obvious thing to do. With the support of the festival organisers and Clarence Valley Tourism, it all came together. We set up two morning tours and one afternoon tour on October 15 and 16. There were a couple of enthusiastic early bookings and as the media began to publicise the event in the week leading up to the festival and word got around, the bookings began to fill up nicely.

The weather was superb, and 3 wonderful, eclectic groups of people, mainly locals, joined us over these two days, and things ran pretty smoothly. We visited 5 sites in and around Yamba where we learned about modern and ancient stories of Yaegl life. We came across a number of bush foods and medicines and people asked lots of interested questions. Gina made superb morning and afternoon teas and we did our best not to wear Uncle Ron (and ourselves) out too much.

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Reedy Creek

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Angourie Point

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Angourie Point

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Mara Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We received some lovely and constructive feedback which will be very helpful from the point of view of Uncle Ron’s future plans. Here is a selection:

  • Absolutely loved the tour. So much information about our local area that was fascinating to learn.
  • What a charming gentleman Uncle Ron is and so happy to pass on his knowledge and stories with lots of detail and a touch of humour thrown in. I would highly recommend this tour to everyone to get an insight into Yamba’s history.
  • We thought he was wonderful, warm, friendly and informative. We enjoyed learning about his life, Yaegl people and about our area and some of our favourite places.
  • I have been a raving fan all week telling friends and anyone who would listen about the mini-tour. It brought me to realise as a 46 year old how very little I know about aboriginal culture, mythology and how their connection to the land is fantastic for your well being… I think there is a great tourism market for Aboriginal mini-tours at Yamba.
  • I enjoyed Uncle Ron’s Yaegl tour so much and felt privileged to hear stories that included tales of Ron growing up in this region and reached back beyond European. It was terrific to visit significant sites and learn how these related to our local Yaegl people historically and currently. I look forwards to more tours with Uncle Ron.
  • Uncle Ron was so informative – I learned so much. The locations were great and it ran smoothly – the morning tea so scrumptious, good company in the group, good group size.
  • Keith & I enjoyed the excursion last Sunday and certainly appreciated the very generous morning tea!… I am sure it would be most enlightening to visitors or newer residents.

These heartfelt words certainly are a sign that Uncle Ron offers a captivating experience. The issue now is for him to start to pull together the various strands needed to set up and run a business built around this. Watch this space. 


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1 Comment

  1. Tony
    October 24th

    So let me make sure I understand this Adrian. Gina has brilliant ideas and makes scrumptious food, Uncle Ron delivers intriguing , thoughtful and entertaining insights into his culture and people, and Adrian drives the bus??? I think your drive and belief play a big part.
    Great to see such warm and enthusiastic responses. A great initiative. Well done.

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