Apparently, there are only three permanent dolphin populations on the northern NSW and southern QLD coast – one at Byron Bay, one at Stradbroke Island and the other at Fingal Head. This was just one of the fascinating pieces of information that local Bunjalung and Christian leader, Kyle Slabb, shared with the Juraki volunteer team at the Juraki surf and culture event. We heard that as we stood on the headland, watching the dolphins surf the waves below us, and the whales spouting and flapping their tails further out. Kyle’s whole family, including brother Joel and his wife Mary, as event organisers, are right at the centre of the community as they host Indigenous competitors and families from around Australia for this significant event in the beautiful waters of their traditional home on the Tweed River.
Once again, IMA had the privilege of taking a bunch of volunteers from chilly Melbourne to the idyllic beaches of Fingal to listen, learn and serve under the guidance of the Slabb family. It was hardly tough work learning to make fairy floss and snow cones, as well as helping set up the odd marquee amidst surf school lessons and a unique cultural awareness walk with Kyle…but someone had to do it! Other highlights included the powerful Welcome to Country and Mixing of the Waters ceremony on the main surf beach, the culture and music night , and sleeping in our Dhiiyaan swags under the stars.
For the Juraki volunteers who attended in 2016 and 2017, the insight into the God-given strengths of Indigenous culture were invaluable, as were the beginnings of friendships that provide the best context for reconciliation in our land.
“As volunteers we were able to build relationships with people in that community and work under the direction of the local leaders. It was an incredible experience. We were able to learn more about the history of their land whilst also getting a unique experience of their culture and faith.” – Carly
“What a privilege it was to be part of the recent Juraki Surf Carnival at Fingal Head. You couldn’t get a more beautiful setting to relax and do ‘mission’. We were welcomed in as family and had the rare opportunity to build relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Christians. We got to slow down and simply listen and learn from our Indigenous brothers and sisters and, in doing so, we grew in our respect for them and all they are doing to bring reconciliation and healing to not only their community, but to all Australians. I can’t wait to go back next year.” – Andrew
“An amazing weekend! We were welcomed with the sound of a didgeridoo and the smells of eucalyptus smoke on the golden sands of Fingal Head on a fine Friday morning and the welcome only got warmer from there! To watch great athletes tackle the tricky Fingal waves and to dive into its chilly arms under the golden winter sun is a memory that will be long enjoyed.” – Steve
“One of the major highlights for my daughter, Hannah and me, was sleeping in swags on the Fingal Primary School oval. So unique. We also loved the headland walk, the Saturday night concert/celebration and the chance to chat with Kyle about his culture and his view on life.” – Phil
Special thanks to Andrew Russell from One Community for all of his help in the promotion and organisation of our team this year. I’m sure he’d agree it won’t be the last time we visit the dolphins at Fingal Head and, like them, we might just be tempted to become permanent locals.
IMA Coordinator East