Southern Stories

Several Whale Peoples off Southern Australia are sharing our ancestral stories with you.

Please respect that the content of this website is part of our heritage and legacy and do not appropriate stories, language or art. It is our responsibility and duty to make you aware that cultural appropriation disrespects our ancestors, who would make this known. Many of the stories shared are sacred to us and have been passed through thousands of generations since Creation. So, please be respectful in how you engage with the stories and content.

We would like to acknowledge and thank the team at Australian Marine Parks, who supported the project Whale Dreaming in Marine Parks off Southern Australia. This Our Marine Parks Grants project received grant funding from the Australian Government.  The stories are currently from the South Australian border in the Great Australian Bight and around Sea Country to south of Wollongong. To read more about the project, please visit the Our Marine Parks page, which also has links for interesting work by the Great Southern Reef team.

Saltwater Submerged Countries

In ancient times, many of our peoples were physically closer, inhabiting a connected shoreline that is now submerged. As Whale Peoples, we share common stories of our Elders and ancestors welcoming home the whales as family. Similarities in the styles of our art, elements of our stories and the friendly generous nature of the whales are apparent. This is consistent both as humans and whales protecting Sea Country – animals, plants, water – and is a sign of custodians.

Please visit John’s wonderful animation showing the changing sea levels, revealing our homelands and hunting grounds that our now submerged. The animation shows from 36,000 years ago to 8,000 years ago. [Source: McCarthy, J. South Australia Coast Sea Level 36ka -8ka, Project for the Mirning Elders.]

Through joint ceremony as Whale Peoples, we experience deep spiritual repair and restoration. The whales were hunted to near extinction and many of our clan and communities were first-encounter peoples with the coming of the sealers and whalers and we were left depleted. We were often then outnumbered and outvoiced by inland peoples. It is with the celebrating of our saltwater songlines and ancestral connections as extended family of the whales that we come together and bring healing to our peoples, whales and Sea Countries.

Engaging with Traditional Owners

The AIATSIS document Engaging with Traditional Owners notes the role of Free, Prior and Informed Consent: In the native title context, consent refers to the decisions made by the Traditional Owners being reached through their customary decision-making processes.

Finding the appropriate Traditional Owners of Country is often a multitier process contacting regional or local organisations that can then connect you with the respective Traditional Owners. (Underlining added.)

The Whale People participating in the project the Traditional Owners of Sea Country who are bloodline descendants of the Creation Whales and have authority to share thier stories. We have also worked with the law firm Terri Janke to ensure the best protection for each community’s Intangible Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP).

We wish that others also respect those with Saltwater bloodlines who have traditional authority to speak for Sea Country when engaging with Traditional Owners.