Connecting Junior Rangers to Wadawurrung Country

Parks Victoria

Junior Rangers learn about Wadawurrung  Country with Ranger Ebonee Cook

Ranger Ebonee Cook sharing her connection to Wadawurrung Country with Junior Rangers at Wurdi Youang, You Yangs Regional Park

Junior Rangers and their families will be able to connect to Wadawurrung Country with Parks Victoria’s first Connection to Country Junior Ranger booklet, developed in partnership with the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners.

Ebonee Cook, a Wadawurrung woman, and Community Engagement Ranger with Parks Victoria, wrote and developed the educational resource working alongside members of the Wadawurrung Traditional Owner Aboriginal Corporation.

“Developing this booklet has been a great accomplishment in my career with Parks Victoria,” Ebonee said.

“Collaborating with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation has provided the opportunity to educate others about Wadawurrung culture and the importance of caring for Country.”

“This booklet is a reminder that Wadawurrung culture is strong. Wadawurrung People have cared for and sustainably managed these lands for thousands of years.”

“However, caring for Country is something that everyone can do. Connecting others to culture, provides a sense of appreciation and contributes to a collaborative approach to looking after Country. If Country is healthy, we all benefit.”

This painting by Wadawurrung artist Jenna Oldaker is called Gobata Dja, which means Take Care of Country.

Gobata Dja, Take Care of Country, by Wadawurrung artist Jenna Oldaker

To illustrate Ebonee’s words, Wadawurrung Visual Artist, Jenna Oldaker created Gobata Dja, which means Take Care of Country.

Jenna’s artwork features throughout the activity book: here she describes how it illustrates beautiful Wadawurrung Country.

“As we travel across Wadawurrung Country from left to right, we can see Youang (big hill) region, kangaroo tracks, tree leaves, a platypus (Perridak), Bundjil the eagle (the spirit creator of Wadawurrung Country) returning boomerangs, and the symbol for fire.”

“The top right-hand corner of the painting illustrates meeting place, a place where we all come together. The U shapes symbolise people, whilst the circles and lines illustrate journey paths.”

“As Wadawurrung people have cared for this land for thousands of years, the Country has reciprocated and cared for us providing healthy and nourished land and water, allowing us to create new life and spirit.”

Connect to Country Wadawurrung Junior Ranger Activity Booklet page 4

Connection to Wadawurrung Country is Parks Victoria’s first cultural activity booklet produced in partnership with the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation

This generous sharing of cultural knowledge, which includes Wadawurrung language, is an opportunity for Victorian families to engage in the meaning of Caring for Country for Wadawurrung people.

Chase Aghan from the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation says: “Through generations, knowledge has been passed down through our Elders. We also gain our own knowledge on the landscapes that surround our modern-day environments. The Junior Rangers Connection to Wadawurrung Country booklet is a perfect example of embedding knowledge for our younger generations. The activity booklet is a great way for the younger generation to start the conversation with their Elders and others on how we see and manage Country today.”

Wadawurrung Country covers more than 10,000 square kilometres on the western side of Melbourne including the major regional cities of Geelong and Ballarat.

Wadawurrung Traditional Owners have cultural obligations to Country, and they also have legal rights to practice their culture as custodians of their traditional land and waters. They are represented by the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation.

The Junior Rangers program at Parks Victoria is proudly supported by our Principal Partner Macpac, encouraging the next generation of nature lovers.

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.