Sunday, January 29, 2012

Connecting to Sea Country - Wurundjeri Day


A sharp, warm and breeezy day awaited our Wurundjeri guests for a sail into the Northern parts of Port Phillip Bay. The day was sponsored by Indigenous Partnerships from Parks Victoria. 


David Mullins, riding the stern.

On board we had members from three Wurundjeri families and all were welcomed by Uncle Paddy Wandin.

All the young people on board got involved with learning the ropes and helping us get the boat down the Yarra and out into the Bay. The Wurundjeri creation story is about the formation of the Yarra River and how it flowed down to create the Bay. Unlike the Boonwurrung story which has the rising sea levels creating Nairn.

Brodie was very enthusiastic to be on a big boat and was often asking questions of the crew about Pelican1 and sailing.
Black swan flying near the where the Birrarung (Yarra River) meets the Nairm (Port Phillip Bay). The Wurundjeri 

Many of the kids had not snorkelled before, so they were given a lesson first about how to use the equipment and swim safely. 

And then they all jumped in!

Golfball sponges

Pelican1 anchored on the edges of the Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary, but the reef was a little deep to see much. But that did not seem to matter to the kids who were all thrilled to master their snorkelling skills.

They also found a butterfly floating in the Nairn and she was brought back on board, travelling home with us to Docklands at the end of the day. Alice Ewing (a previous Two Bays participant) identified it as the Imperial Jezebel, Delias harpalyce  

All the kids mucked in with Anna (Pelican cook) and helped her make a Banana cake, which we ate on the way home.


Pelican1 sharing the river with slightly larger vessels!


Last time the Wurundjeri came out with the Two Bays project, Bob (who was on board) caught an Australian Salmon. It was not for lack of trying but this time the fish were not biting!


Aunty Winnie and Aunty Vicky with myself, Natalie, Aurora and Sharon.


Aunty Vicky.


The day was a great opportunity to get out and connect with Sea Country. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Multicultural Sea Country Day- boat journeys

Aunty Pam Pederson (Yorta Yorta Elder) has been on board Pelican1 many times and she jumped on again to welcome recent arrivals to Australia, who were sailing out to learn about the local Port Phillip Bay marine environment.

All together we had people from 17 different countries on the boat.

The day has become an annual part of the Two Bays project in partnership with Parks Victoria and organisations such as the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre and New Hope. Some of the participants had already taken part in the Park Vic Bilingual Tour Guides program and Amy Mallett, Community Engagement from Parks was on board to encourage others to link in with Parks Victoria and learn about the local natural environment.

Amy Mallet introducing the day.

Everyone was asked to get to know the person beside them and then try to find something that they both have in common.


Amanda Franklin showing everyone where the sanctuary sits on the Port Phillip Bay map.

We travelled around to Jawbone Marine Sanctuary and divers from Parks got in the water to again film the underwater world to share with Parks rangers talking about what was seen above, as it was projected onto Pelican TV. 

Mark Rodrigue from Parks Vic, talked the marine park system and the ecology of the bay. Most of the participants could follow what was shared and if there were language difficulties, they could just enjoy the pictures of the underwater denizens of Jawbone.


Pictured Joseph and Mazin from Iraq, who both work to help settle refiugees into life in Melbourne. They both gave me some deeper insight into contemporary events in the Middle East and in particular Syria.

We journeyed further to Point Cooke and stopped for lunch. Delicious food had been prepared by guests on board, from their home countries and culture shared through the universal language of culinary delights. Nurcihan from Turkey, brought a salad made from things in her garden and talked about how often newcomers to Australia ate many of the plants that are considered weeds here. One example she used was purslane.


Travelling pictures.

One of the younger participants shared a story of how he came to Australia. He had journeyed with his family in a boat as long as Pelican is wide from Indonesia to Christmas Island, jam- packed with 60 souls. His family came from Iran and he acted as a translator for his Mum and Dad, though his Dad's English was good. He was filled with enthusiasm for Pelican1 and everything he learnt that day on board. It seems Australia is the richer for these resilient people being here and they are certainly determined to make the most of their new homeland.


The bay is a big playground for yachts and we found ourselves in the middle of a race.

We returned to Williamstown with what felt like a boat load of friends. Everyone had enjoyed the day and learnt much about the local marine life and the passionate people that give voice to the environment. The lively group on board and the beautiful weather all added up to make this one of the magic days of the Two Bays program


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Friends of friends...

The first day of the Two Bays program was initially as grey as the weatherboards on Gem Pier in Williamstown. The day was planned to combine launch and acivities to celebrate the marine parks in Port Phillip Bay. Two Bays 2012 coincides with their 10th year anniversary. The day was partnered with Reef Watch and represented by Simon Branigan from the Victorian National Parks Association and all the marine care groups.

VNPA played a role in the establishment of terrestrial national parks and contributed significantly to the set up of the marine parks.


There is clear research that the greater the community engagement in marine parks, the better the conservation outcome. In the case of Victoria's marine parks, without the support of community, we would not have the established marine park system we have today.

We sailed to the Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary (Sanctuary is the term for a smaller marine park) on the Eastern side of the Bay, with Friends groups from Jawbone and Point Cooke Marine Parks and met up with people from Marine Care- Ricketts Point and other participants. The groups had invited friends along to encourage them to join and support their local marine care groups.


The day was coordinated by a Parks Vic marine intern, Amanda Franklin (pictured above)- who stepped into the role this year as Two Bays coordinator for Parks Victoria and has done a fantastic job.

It was fantastic to have the still relatively new Parks Vic CEO on board- Bill Jackson. I heard him speak a while back in his role as head of ICUN at the Healthy People Healthy Parks conference in 2010. I was impressed by him then and thrilled to hear he had taken the role of head of Parks in Melbourne. It seemed very fitting for the day that the CEO of Parks was one of the divers. The presence of marine interns  this year is part of decisions made by Parks to activate more people on the ground for the marine environment.

We headed to the sanctuary, with our boatload picked up from two jettys on either side of the bay, to share the delights of the underwater denizens through divers filming and sharing images on a screen placed in the saloon of Pelican1.[[posterous-content:pid___2]]It's an interesting experience, moving slightly on a boat and watching the fluid imagery of the life happening just beneath you. The umbilical connection of the cable gave a life and immediacy to the pictures so that it did not feel like TV. Or like the very well-known Leunig cartoon of a person watching a sunset on TV, while the real sun sets out the window.



The divers under the watchful gaze of Chris Hayward from Parks Vic, who managed all the safety aspects of the day. Ray Lewis, seated nearby, is one of the key people behind the thriving Marine Care group at Ricketts. He has also just published a book called Marine Victoria for Volunteers about the marine care groups, volurteering in the bay and a huge amoount of information abot our local marine habitats. (He very kindly donated a copy for Pelican1)

A biscuit seastar brought up by the divers and returned to its home after Marg O'Toole (pictured in 2nd photo) had shared her extensive knowledge of marine creatures.
Janet Bolitho (Port Phillip councilor), pictured above, has been a huge supporter of the Two Bays project and the Pelican gang. She has MC'd every launch of Two Bays so it was fitting to have her on board for the day.

[[posterous-content:pid___1]]It is during the informal chats that happen onboard that some of the best outcomes of the Two Bays program are created.


Bill Jackson, Parks CEO, lugging his oxygen up the Black Rock jetty at the end of the day.


Mark Rodrigue, one of the key individuals within Parks Victoria who has ensured the program's continuity and driven it with an infectious passion for all things salty. Pictured here with Amanda Franklin.

Parks Victoria's ongoing support of the program over the last six years has allowed ideas and networks around it to flourish. The central platform of the program (besides doing lots of science) is the sharing knowledge (across agencies, different cultures and connecting to the general community) and encouraging collaboration. This is a fundamental for working with and understanding the complex needs of dynamic sys and often threatened marine environments. 


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Map-Two Bays 2012- the abstract and the particular.

TB12_Map1-3.pdf Download this file
Two Bays 2012 map.


Pictured: Indigenous Ranger at Parks Vic- Alex Korte, Rebecca Phillips- Research Officer Parks Vic, Carolyn Briggs-Boonwurrung Elder, Ian Cambell- Pelican crew and Aurora Davey- Pelican crew.

Sailing over the underwater waterfall at the Heads in Two Bays 2010.

Every year we head out with our abstract plan in search of the particular in Port Phillip and Westernport Bays. This year's program will include looking at the microscopic plankton near Werribee, seagrass, marine pests, Traditional Knowledge, marine education, community engagement in marine parks, training for Parks rangers and all the while mapping water quality. Check out the program for a more detailed overview and watch out for a hard-working cat in the bay!

Seagrass at Mud Island