Australia is a country of diverse cultures and traditions, and the Worimi (also spelt Warrimay) are the traditional custodians of the breathtaking Port Stephens and Great Lakes regions in New South Wales.
Spanning majestic landscapes that include the large moving Stockton sand dunes, coastal forests, beaches and waterways, the Worimi's ancestral lands carry a deeply rooted connection to their culture and spirituality. Their heritage, upheld for thousands of years, embodies a harmonious relationship with the sacred dunes, rivers, and forests.
The Worimi view the land, sea, and sky as intertwined elements of their existence, and their customs and practices reflect this deep connection to country and the elements, including animals, landscapes, rocks, rain and stars. Maintaining a harmonious relationship with, and preservation of, the environment and the land that has provided for them throughout time is of utmost importance, and is taught to each new generation or Worimi.
The Worimi Nation was made up of eighteen tribes known as Ngurras according to the Elders. The Saltwater group (Ngurra) that encompasses Fingal Bay, Nelson Bay and the Worimi Conservation Lands are known as the Maiangal Ngurra (group).
Gathang was the language spoken by the Worimi Nation prior to the arrival of the Europeans, and the subsequent decimation of the majority of Aboriginal languages throughout the country. The Worimi were moved from their homeland and forced to live in Missions or on Reserves where their language and culture were almost lost. Currently, thanks to recordings made in the 1960s, Worimi language is being revived through the use of books, songs, dance, storytelling and language workshops. This language revival serves to empower and provide identity to the younger generations growing up in the region.
The Worimi cared for and lived on resources found within their country and provided for by the land and sea, utilising sustainable hunting and gathering techniques, that included not over fishing, hunting or foraging any area, and ensuring that all parts of the food source was either eaten or used to make tools or clothing. Living close to the coast, it is no surprise that a large portion of food was sourced from the saltwater of the ocean and estuaries of the bay, especially the shellfish and fish that are abundantly found there.
Popular foods hunted from the land included kangaroo, wallaby, emu, goanna, possum, snake and flying foxes, and some of the foods that the Worimi gathered included wild yams, fern roots, wild native plum, Lilly Pilly and the Gigantic Gymea Lily.
Worimi communities place great value on the importance of family, considered the main foundation of their society. They have a strong sense of community and belonging, and a complex kinship system that determines relationships and social structures within the community. This system establishes bonds between individuals based on their familial connections, and it plays a crucial role in defining roles, responsibilities, and obligations within the community.
Culture and traditions are passed down by the Elders, who play a vital role as the custodians of knowledge and histories, sharing through storytelling. These stories convey important cultural values, customs, and wisdom, preserving the Worimi heritage and strengthening the community's identity, and the Elders are the trusted advisers and sources of wisdom, providing guidance and leadership to the community.
The Worimi welcome all visitors to these lands, extending an invitation to understand their profound heritage For those eager to delve deeper, you can read more about Worimi Culture, and Worimi Sea Country; take a visit to the Murrook Cultural Centre which runs courses and hosts events to further explore and understand the depth and richness of the Worimi culture, or simply visit the onsite Murrook Cafe which is open Mon-Fri 8am-3pm, and 8am-2pm Sat at 2163 Nelson Bay Road, Williamtown. And for the adventurous at heart, join the Aboriginal Culture, Sand Boarding and Quad Bike Tour with Sand Dune Adventures for an unforgettable cultural experience.
We acknowledge the original custodians of this land, the Worimi Peoples. We pay respect to them and their Elders past, present and future. We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and continuing relationship with the land.
We honour their deep ancestral knowledge, their culture and their continuing contributions to the community and environment.
We stand in solidarity and seek to learn from their wisdom.
May we walk together on this land with respect, understanding and harmony.