Coast gathers to listen deeply

January 26, 2023 BY

A REFLECTIVE Surf Coast community gathered in their thousands by the ocean in Torquay this morning (January 26) for the inaugural Pilk Purriyn truth-telling event presented by members of the region’s First Nations People.

A crowd estimated at 2000 gathered at Cosy Corner for the event, which Wadawurrung Traditional Owners opened with a minute’s silence to acknowledge all First Nations People who had passed.

Wadawurrung woman Corrina Eccles speaks to the crowd.

An all-female dance followed and was later accompanied by a song about Bundjil the wedge-tailed eagle sung by Wadawurrung woman Corinna Eccles, and a male dancer representing Bundjil; the creator of Wadawurrung Country.

Ms Eccles spoke of the reason why she and her people do not view January 26 as a day to celebrate, saying it was a day that that represents invasion, colonisation and the near-decimation of Aboriginal people.

The crowd was asked to reflect on the ongoing connection to Country that the Wadawurrung have maintained since grazier John Batman arrived in 1835 at what is now known as Indented Head on the Bellarine Coast and claimed the lands of the people of the Kulin Nation.

“Always was, always will be, Wadawurrung land,” Ms Eccles repeated.
An emotional Ms Eccles recalled how it was originally thought that all Wadawurrung people had either died or been killed during colonisation, until it was later discovered that one bloodline remained.

Wadawurrung Traditional Owner Greg Robinson then asked people to take a minute’s silence to contemplate what was said.

Geelong MP Christine Couzens addressed the crowd and outlined the progress the state government was making on Treaty with First Nations people, and urged people to vote yes in the coming national referendum on a Voice to Parliament.

Surf Coast Shire Mayor Liz Pattison.

Surf Coast Shire mayor Liz Pattison was the last key note speaker to address those gathered, and used the opportunity to explain why the council no longer celebrated Australia day and had opted instead to support the Pilk Purriyn (meaning sunrise in Wadawurrung) event.

Flags are flying at half-mast at the shire’s council building for the day, as they have since the council resolved in 2022 to no longer mark Australia Day on January 26.