Wallawani (hello), my name is Shane Carriage. My language group is Dhurga. I’m a member and CEO of the Ulladulla Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC).
I’ve been here for 22 years, come July. I was born in Moruya, which is an hour south, but my family is from Ulladulla. I grew up here from the age of three years. In the early days, we had about 50 to 60 LALC members but now we have 160 to 170 on the books and about a hundred of those are voting members.
Over the years we’ve been able to assist a lot of people to reconnect with their mob – that’s been a really nice feeling. The cultural tour on the headland was our first major project. That kicked off in 1994. It went for about two years then we built a culture trail which we still use today. My dad does most of the tours and we take school groups and groups from anywhere, including Aboriginal children from other areas like Sydney and Canberra, which we’ve done on a number of occasions.
Our biggest project to date has been the development at Dolphin Point which took us approximately 12 years to get through and get started. It’s a 104 – lot development. The first stage has 14 lots. The next stage has about 13 lots and it’s been advertised now. It’s Crown Land and it was actually zoned residential approximately 20 years before we even got hold of it. So we thought it was going to be a hop, skip and a jump and away we go but we had to jump through so many hoops to get it started and I guess if we’d known what we know now, we probably would’ve just sold the block of land and collected – I think it was worth $10 million at the time. But we wanted to learn from the project. We wanted to use our information to help other Land Councils who want to do similar projects and we have other land that we want to develop later so we thought this would be a good way of learning how that system works. At the end of the day, the community is going to benefit from anything we make out of it from employment, education, training and housing. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.
We are planning on having a bark canoe festival in May which is the first on the coast and we’re hoping all the Land Councils on the coast will have a turn at running that festival so it’s not just Ulladulla, it’s the whole coast.
We have a darts team made up of eight people. We’re all Kooris and there’s one good player but the rest of us just make up the numbers. haha.
Right behind us is the mountain Didthul, which is also known as Pigeon House Mountain. If you look at it – you’ll see that it’s the breast of a woman, which is Mother Earth feeding. Again that’s land and it’s nurturing us both physically and mentally. Land is everything. Land’s always been our economy, if you go back pre- white fullas turning up here, land was our economy, it kept us alive. It might not be in the same vein as it does now as with our development but it’s still our economy. Land is still feeding us, it might have fed us in a different way in the past but today it’s still feeding us and we have parcels of land that we’ll never touch – that will be set aside for generations to come. Those lands are valuable because we can take our young ones out there and teach them about their bush tucker and bush medicines. We need to get the young ones so we can pass on our knowledge, like we have done traditionally for hundreds of thousands of years. It doesn’t matter that it’s modern-day society – it’s still the same thing. You can read all the books you want but when you sit down with someone who’s an elder and they explain things to you about culture, like who you are and where you’re from. The younger you get them, the easier it is for them. When they’re younger, they are like a sponge. It’s harder as they get older. They get to learn about themselves and they get pride in who they are. It doesn’t matter if they come from Ulladulla – it might not be where their mob is originally from but they’re still mob and we welcome them all and try to help them find out who they are.