The Waalubal people of the Clarence River have their unique way of explaining the origins of landscapes and people – so how do the local Indigenous people share their view of the world? In this episode of Save Our Catchment, you will learn about the nature of 'Origin Stories' and how First Nations people have maintained a long and accurate record of the landscape and environment through storytelling. (1:48)

Save Our Catchment – Episode 4

WARNING – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that the following video may contain images and voices of deceased persons.


Dreaming stories give meaning to human life. Aboriginal people attribute their origins and occupation of Australia to their ancestors and spirit beings of their particular family groups, distinct to a particular area of land.

[Screen reads Focus question: How do the traditional people, Aboriginal Australians, explain the origin of their land?]

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have their own explanations of how landscapes and landforms were created. These explanations are known as creation stories or Dreamtime. It is the belief of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders that at the beginning of time spirit ancestors wandered the land in the form of animals. These ancestors shaped the land and provided resources for human use. They believe that these ancestors live in, on and around all living things on our landscape. Therefore the landscape is sacred to Aboriginal people and they see it as their responsibility to care for their ancestors who gave them life, customs, languages and traditional practices.

[Screen reads Clarence River Catchment is located in the traditional lands of the Bunjalung people.]

The Clarence River is located in what was traditionally known as Bundjalung Nation. Indigenous Australians have their own unique ways of explaining the origin of their country. Dreamtime stories illustrate the deep connection Aboriginal people have with the land.

[Screen reads Traditional knowledge. Refers to the knowledge, innovations and practices of Indigenous and local communities around the world]

For thousands of years, Aboriginal people have observed the changing environment and learnt to evolve with it. Many of these changes have been incorporated into oral history through spiritual storytelling, providing a long and accurate record of our environmental change.

List of sources and acknowledgements:

  1. Acknowledgement – Southern Cross School of Distance Education acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which this series of videos were filmed. We wish to pay respect to Jubullum tribal group – past, present and emerging – of the Waalubal people – Bundjalung Nation. We acknowledge their integral role in the production of these videos and express our gratitude for their deep generosity in welcoming us onto their country and sharing their knowledge in welcoming us onto their country and sharing their knowledge and expertise. We recognise their tireless ongoing work to maintain and share this country, its significant sites and the deep and important history which it holds.
  2. Video – Drone footage of The Everlasting Swamp. We would like to thank The Everlasting Swamp National Park and Jessica Robertson Photography and Design for contributing their beautiful drone footage
  3. Narration – Voice over by Melissa Ellis, Southern Cross School of Distance Education
  4. Acknowledgment – We wish to thank Father Pop Harry Walker, Annabelle Walker, Roy Bell, Jubullum Local Aboriginal Land Council, Steve Walker, Marty Walker, David Foley, Upper Clarence River Landcare, Terry Moody, Steven Ross, Frederick Ellis

[End of transcript]

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