A salty tale that inspires a new generation…

Award-winning Gold Coast author, Benjamin Allmon and Bundjalung-Yugambeh canoe maker, Kyle Slabb have collaborated with renowned photographer David Kelly and former ABC producer and filmmaker Jeff Licence to document their epic 70km three-day sea journey that follows an ancient First Nations maritime trade route in traditional canoes. This treacherous sea voyage has connected the Goories or Saltwater People across the water from the Gold Coast to North Stradbroke Island for thousands of years.

The Saltwater Story documents Benjamin’s passage into a piece of First Nations culture that is rarely offered to someone outside of the Bundjalung/Yugambeh people. This voyage with Kyle and his family has resulted in a stunning documentary, a beautiful coffee table book, and an exhibition that launched in May at HOTA, Home of the Arts on the Gold Coast.

The inclusion of a unique group of young Bundjalung, Yugambeh and Quandamooka men in this project provides viewers with a rare insight into a rite of passage for the next generation. The result is a story of connection, collaboration and cooperation – not just between the Bundjalung-Yugambeh people and the Quandamooka people, but between generations, between black and white, between land, sky and sea. It is also a story of continuance – of ancient knowledge now held by just a few being passed to the elders of tomorrow.

A Voyage of Discovery

Producer and writer, Benjamin Allmon says: ‘This project has been the last four years of my life. Not long after becoming a Dad I realised that if my son asked me one day about the Indigenous history of the Gold Coast, I wouldn’t know what to say. So, I decided to find out. The book starts with this realisation, and goes from there, through years of research, to meeting Kyle, to making the traditional canoes together and then paddling them together. 

It follows how personally difficult reconciling the two cultures within a project is… and ultimately how rewarding. I am immensely proud that we made the canoes, and that I got to paddle the three-day journey alongside the next generation of Saltwater men… I am deeply and permanently changed by the experience, and I now have a story to tell my son – The Saltwater Story.’

The story tells of three brothers who arrived by sea in a canoe, establishing fresh water sites, tribal laws, bora rings and traditional knowledge for generations to come.

The Saltwater Story is a true collaboration utilising First Nations locations, government assistance and collaborators from across Australia to engage both the non-First Nation and First Nation communities to ensure this knowledge is transmitted to the next generation.

The book, e-book and DVD can be purchased at: http://www.benjaminallmon.com/product/the-saltwater-story/

Keep an eye out for future screenings of The Saltwater Story later in the year.

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