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Museum exhibition recounts Jervis Bay's indigenous history

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A possum skin cloak and bark canoe are just two of the local indigenous items on display as part of a new exhibition at the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum in Huskisson.

The Munggura-Nggul exhibition recounts the stories of the people, events and places in the history of Jervis Bay and surrounding  areas.

It tells the stories of early settlers, the development of the region’s industries such as whaling and fishing, boatbuilding, woodcutting and farming, and the role of the navy in the area, through to the development of area as a tourist and holiday destination, and the story of environmental activism in the region. 

Munggura-Nggul, which means ‘home-belong’ in the local Dhurga language, recounts the history of the indigenous people in the area, their struggles to survive European settlement, their struggles for land rights, and the pride they take in their contemporary communities. 

Museum’s Director Diana Lorentz says the new exhibition replaces an old history-based exhibition previously housed in the same galley but which needed a complete refresh of its displays and to incorporate new ways of telling stories.

She said the exhibition opened on October 29 with a traditional smoking ceremony and the carrying in of canoe (or ‘garidja’ as it is known in the local Dhurga language) which was made on museum grounds for the exhibition by members of the Jerringa people.

Ms Lorentz says , being a maritime museum, it is fitting to have a bark canoe, the likes of which were seen and drawn by explorers when they entered Jervis Bay.

She's thrilled to also have a contemporary possum skin cloak on loan from Wreck Bay's Freeman family.

“The exhibition features some fascinating objects, including one of the few complete Seibe Gorman diving suits fully assembled as well as some significant objects from the local Aboriginal community," she said.

It also boasts objects from the numerous shipwrecks on the treacherous South Coast over the years, including the bell from the Walter Hood, and photographs of the families, holiday makers, colourful local identities, and buildings, that are now long gone.

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The new exhibition was designed by Queanbeyan-based design company Thylacine Design, with input from the Museum’s staff, volunteers and the Bay and Basin community.

Funds for the construction of the new exhibition, and alterations to the gallery to house it, came from a NSW government CREATE NSW, Regional Cultural Grant Fund, awarded to the Museum last year.

Museum hours are 10.30 am to 3.30 pm each day, including weekends and the museum is located in Woollamia Rd, Huskisson. 

Admission is $10 ($8 concession) with children under 16 free. 

Photos Jervis Bay Maritime Museum

Wreck Bay Rural Fire Brigade indigenous artwork connecting community

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Wreck Bay Rural Fire Fighters are connected culturally to the land and sea and now their fire trucks carry images of their Indigenous heritage.

The artwork is a collaboration between Sydney-based artist Nikita Ridgeway, of Boss Lady Design and Communications, and brigade members.

Wreck Bay RFS community engagement officer Jackson Brown inspired the design artwork and said "The artwork tells the community story."

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Jackson said, "The hands represent the people of the community, and the dots surrounding it represent the Wreck Bay community members, past, present, and future.

He said, "The large black dots and flames represent the Black Summer Bushfires and communities in NSW that were impacted by the bushfires.

"The blue represents the waters around the Bherwerre Peninsula," he said.

Jackson said, "There are also sea creatures that are on, and they represent our cultural connection as Wreck Bay people."

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"The Community's Rural Fire Brigade is stationed on aboriginal land in the Jervis Bay territory and is owned and managed by the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Council and the vehicles represent their community and culture whenever it rolls out on a job," Jackson said.

Images: Jackson Brown