Despite some tricky weather, the special cultural event to open the 2022 whale season was held at Bermagui on Saturday.
The town hosted Walawaani Muriyira-Waraga, an event connecting people to place and celebrating the relationship between whales, Yuin culture and the community of Bermagui.
Walawaani Muriyira-Waraga which means ‘safe journey whale – many’ in the Dhurga language, saw an official opening ceremony take place inside the ‘all weather’ Bermagui Surf Club which included a Welcome to Country, dance performance and talks about Yuin cultural connections to whales followed by a Smoking Ceremony outside led by Richard Campbell and the Gumaraa Aboriginal Experience.
The rain didn’t dampen the enthusaism of those taking part in the community paddle out to welcome the whales as they pass Bermagui on their annual journey south. Over 20 paddlers formed a symbolic circle in the calm waters off Horseshoe Bay Beach in front of onlookers.
The event concluded with a series of talks on whale behaviour, migration, differing species and bioversity as well as a presentation on the history of Bermagui dating back to the 1930’s.
Rhys Treloar, Tourism Manager at Sapphire Coast Destination Marketing, said the event was a great success and a testament to the community of Bermagui and organising partners.
“Despite the rain the event was a huge success. A huge thank you to all the organisers and Bermagui Surf Club for allowing us to put on the opening ceremony indoors”
“The Gumaraa dancers were incredible and being indoors made the experience even more intimate and special” said Mr Treloar.
“I want to thank all the organisers and community for making this event possible and of course Bega Valley Shire Council for sourcing the funding through the Regional Tourism Bushfire Recovery fund. We’re all very hopeful to see it happen again next year.”
The afternoon of the event saw passengers delighted with breaching whales, dolphins and a burst of sunshine aboard Sapphire Coastal Adventures (formerly Merimbula Marina) community charters.
Sapphire Coast Destination Marketing would like to thank all organisers including South East Arts, Bermagui Chamber of Commerce, Bermagui Surf Club, Camel Rock Surf School, Bermagui Historical Society, Sapphire Coastal Adventures, Atlas of Life, Bermagui Visitor Information Centre, Bega Valley Shire Council and the community of Bermagui.
Image: David Rogers/Sapphire Coastal Adventures