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RAAF Williamtown

SIX WORIMI STORIES - TO MATCH THE ARTWORK (RAAF Project)

(1)        THE CRAB IS READY

The Worimi people read signs in nature. When the mangrove seeds drop from the trees the Worimi would know that the crabs were full of meat and were ready to be collected. The port was teaming with marine life. Fish, oysters, crab, prawns, lobster and other shell fish were all part of the Worimi's staple diet.

(2)        THE FISH TRAPS

The Worimi people would use different methods to catch various food for their community's needs. They would only take what they needed for the day. As depicted in the artwork, the Worimi would use the dolphins  to assist them to trap the fish. The people built circular fish traps with natural rocks that were available in particular areas in the port. They would then engage the dolphins, by calling out to them "wubaray makurr" to circle the fish and drive them into the prepared fish traps, where they could be easily speared. When the catch was sufficient for the day the Worimi would remove some of the rocks so that the remaining fish could swim out into the open water.

(3)        THE JELLY FISH

When the jelly fish was plentiful in the port the Worimi would know that this was a good sign that the waters were healthy and pristine. The large numbers of jelly fish moving in and out with the tide was also an indicator that the marine food chain was healthy.

(4) WELCOME - GUUDGI- YIIGU

This artwork acknowledges and respects the Worimi Nation, custodians of this country and offers a welcome to others entering their traditional lands.

A Worimi family stand upon country, depicted by both the dolphin, one of the Worimi totems, and sand dunes flowing across the bottom of the work. They carefully watch visitors making their way toward their traditional lands. Set between the two groups is the bullroarer, which when swung vigorously in a circular motion above the head, would echo across the landscape and be heard over great distances, sending a warning or a welcome. Flowing across the bullroarer are water symbols depicting both boundaries to country and land of the Worimi.

Within the design, the Port Stephens headland of Tomaree (meaning rainbow) to the South, and Yacaaba (meaning place of swamp mahogany) to the North create a natural gateway and connection between the Worimi and the great blue waters of the ocean

 

(5) GATHER IN CELEBRATION

This artwork is reflective of the value of family, coming together and celebrating as Worimi People. The meeting circles depicted in the design represent close family ties, kinship and relationship across extended family.

Traditional stories of the Worimi are shared during celebrations, at certain times of the year. Celebration stories include that of the Gymea lily, when in full bloom, heralded the coming of the whales. The Worimi women first stood on the cliff to sing a song to call the whales in. Other stories include the running of the mullet.

The meeting circles within this design can be found across the traditional Worimi stories within the building, highlighting again the great importance placed on family and coming together.


 

(6) RUNNING OF THE MULLET

 

(Saretta Fielding has to change the design of the fish)
 

A traditional custom of the Worimi was to leave the East Coast during the colder months and camp in the mountains but; not before celebrating the “Running of the Mullet”.

The Worimi knew that the cold westerly winds meant the mullet were on their way and so; their children would skilfully climb to the top of the tallest trees and watch closely for the mullet travelling up from the south coast and entering into the Port. The mullet would follow along the southern banks of the Port as they instinctively swam high up into the rivers and creeks to lay their eggs. When it was time to leave; the mullet would hug the northern side of the Port and make their way towards the great ocean gateway between Tomaree and Yacaaba heads.

When the children saw the mullet coming; they would send down a signal to the skilled Worimi men who were armed with spears and waiting eagerly below. The men would wade out ‘waist-deep’ into the water and stand quietly with their spears aloft (made from the stem of a Gymea Lily), ready to strike. Sometimes the mullet were so abundant that they would abandon their spears and work with their bare arms and hands only; reaching under to scoop up the larger fish and hurl them onto the shore, taking only what the family(s) needed for the day.

The women and children would gather up the mullet and prepare it for the ceremony and the great feast that was shared by all.

By consuming the Mullet and the richness of ‘good fish oil’ contained within, the Worimi remained healthy throughout the colder months, as it provided them with an increased resistance for the harsher conditions.

 

NB The Birubi Headland/Southern Cross story hasn't been written as yet.

The artwork has been done.

 

Artist Brief:

Concept

The design and creation of artworks reflecting stories of the Worimi nation. 

Concept designs are to be developed into graphic images for installations across a number of mediums at the new RAAF premises located William Town NSW.

Aboriginal visual stories from the area will enhance the sharing of local culture and demonstrate the commitment to an ongoing effective partnership, relationship with community and the recognition of Worimi country and custodians by both CPB and RAAF. 

Artwork Themes          

  • Welcome to our Country
  • Running of the Mullet                  
  • Gymea Lillie’s and the coming of the Whales
  • Dolphin and Jelly Fish Story                                    
  • Birubi Point & the Southern Cross         
  • Coming Together & Celebration

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