Guy Cameron

PhD, Bbiomedsci(hons), Bmedsci

A Day of Cultural Immersion and Learning at Saltwater National Park with TIDE and Uncle John

November 30, 2023

Our team had the enriching experience of visiting Saltwater National Park and engaging with the Taree Indigenous Development & Enterprise (TIDE). The highlight of our visit was yarning with Uncle John, a respected Biripi elder, whose stories and wisdom added depth to our understanding of the local culture and heritage.

Delving into TIDE's Work and Meeting Uncle John

Our journey started at the TIDE centre in Taree, a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting Aboriginal communities through employment, training, and cultural programs. Here, Uncle John, a figure of immense respect in the Biripi community, greeted us. He shared insights about TIDE's numerous initiatives, like the Driver Licensing Access Program and Working on Country, which are integral to community development and support.

Discovering the Riches of Saltwater National Park

We then headed to Saltwater National Park, a place of extraordinary natural beauty and cultural significance. The park is known for its popular surfing spots at Saltwater Beach and Wallabi Beach, and the unique Saltwater headland, one of only three headlands between Wallis Lake and the Manning River. We strolled through a rainforest walking track, keeping our eyes peeled for whale watching at Saltwater Point.

Experiencing the Saltwater Picnic Area

For lunch, we enjoyed a relaxed picnic in the Saltwater picnic area. This well-equipped site, with its proximity to ocean beaches and walking tracks, is perfect for a bit of swimming, fishing, and birdwatching.

Walking Tracks and Aboriginal Heritage

We explored the park's walking tracks, including the Headland walking track and the Five Islands walking track. These paths led us through a landscape rich in Aboriginal history and stunning plant life, like the magenta lilly pilly and the wallum banksia. These tracks also offered incredible spots for swimming, fishing, surfing, and sailing.

The Cultural Landscape of Saltwater Beach

The most impactful part of our visit was learning about the spiritual significance of Saltwater Beach and its surrounds to the Biripi tribe. Uncle John shared stories of Dreamtime sites within the park, highlighting the area's declaration as an Aboriginal Place. The joint management of the park by Aboriginal people and local residents, in association with Saltwater Tribal Council and NPWS, emphasises its special local importance.
Our day at Saltwater National Park with TIDE and Uncle John was not just an excursion; it was a journey into the heart of Aboriginal culture and heritage, leaving us with a deeper respect and understanding of the Biripi people and their enduring connection to the land.


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