Wetlands tour a chance to close the gap
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Wetlands tour a chance to close the gap

Canberrans snapped up a chance to get a first hand experience with Indigenous culture on Saturday, making bush soap, boomerangs and learning about plant life.

The event at the Jerrabomberra wetlands was being held to allow younger generations to learn more about Aboriginal culture and work towards closing the gap, Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation cultural director Richie Allan said.

Mikael Sarafian Green picks leaves from a tree that can be used as bush soap.

Mikael Sarafian Green picks leaves from a tree that can be used as bush soap.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

"It's important to highlight Ngunnawal culture around here and show it to the Canberra community," Mr Allan said.

Mr Allan said Canberra's first Reconciliation Day on Monday was a sign the country was moving forward.

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"Not a great deal, but we are moving forward," Mr Allan said.

Ngunnawal man Richie Allen teaching the families how to throw a boomerang.

Ngunnawal man Richie Allen teaching the families how to throw a boomerang. Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

Penelope Andrew said her son, Spencer Cole, was most interested in the boomerangs.

"I like hearing about Indigenous cultures, but I really want my children to learn about it as well," Ms Andrew said.

"I want them to grow up knowing the stories. I think there's a lot of Aboriginal culture that we don't know about."

The group was served a spread, including crocodile and kangaroo, which Mr Allan said wasn't traditionally Ngunnawal.

Ms Andrew also said the group learned about native plants which acted as a soap but also a sedative, which Indigenous people would put into waterholes.

"If kangaroos or snakes came and drank from the waterhole it made them easier to hunt," Ms Andrew said.

Christine Sarafian, a Canadian, also attended the event in the wetlands with her son Mikael.

Spencer Cole 6 painting his boomerang.

Spencer Cole 6 painting his boomerang.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

The experience made her want to learn more about native Canadians when she returned home.

"I really enjoyed learning about the different medicinal or edible properties of the plants; the flora and fauna is very different from Canada," Ms Sarafian said.

Young Mikael was amazed at making soap from native plants and loved throwing boomerangs.

"We all really enjoyed it," Ms Sarafian said.

Mr Allan said he hoped for more funding so he could continue to provide the tours to more Canberrans.

"If you want to learn more, please, I urge people to contact us," he said. "It's our history."

A series of events is being held in Canberra for Reconciliation Day and Week. See reconcilation.org.au for details.

Finbar O'Mallon is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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