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Storytelling lies at the heart of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, serving as the primary way of recording history, imparting values and fostering resilience. These tales, encompassing Country, creation and tradition, not only educate but also sustains communities, validates experiences, nurtures relationships and ensure important cultural continuation.

In recognition of this, we present Sea Country Connections, a monthly e-newsletter showcasing the collaborative efforts Reef Traditional Owners alongside us and other in managing and protecting the Land and Sea Country in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Delve into the depths of this platform as we honour the legacy of storytelling and facilitate cultural exchange. 

Dive into Sea Country Connections 

Each edition of Sea Country Connections sheds light on the ongoing contributions of Traditional Owners along the Reef. Explore a myriad of stories and experiences that showcase the remarkable efforts undertaken to manage, conserve and protect the Reef’s natural and heritage values. 

Distributed monthly, our e-newsletter features diverse stories and experiences that highlight the deep connections between Traditional Owners and the Reef. 

Be part of our community and receive inspiring stories and updates by subscribing to the Sea Country Connections e-newsletter. Stay informed about the latest management efforts, narratives and opportunities related to Reef Traditional Owners.

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Share your yarn

Keen to have a yarn? We’d love to hear from you! Your stories are vital to our e-newsletter, helping others appreciate and understand the important conservation work and cultural connections you uphold. Your stories will be featured in our e-newsletter and may also appear on our website, social media, and other publications. Send us an email with your story.

By subscribing and contributing, you help us celebrate and amplify the voices of Reef Traditional Owners, ensuring that their rich storytelling tradition continues to thrive and be shared with the world.

Lama Lama TUMRA and children learning a drone setup - Commonwealth of Australia (Reef Authority)
Yuku Baju TUMRA - Commonwealth of Australia (Reef Authority)
Yuku Baju TUMRA flying a drone - Australia - Commonwealth of Australia (Reef Authority)
Gunggandji TUMRA field management work - Commonwealth of Australia (Reef Authority)
Yirrgandji TUMRA and Crown-of-thorns control management - Commonwealth of Australia (Reef Authority)

Cuppa and a yarn with Jade

Jade Pryor, a descendant of the Girramay and Bandjin people, has dedicated herself to preserving Girringun's cultural heritage, Land and Sea Country.

As Girringun's TUMRA coordinator, Jade works tirelessly alongside the Traditional Owners of Girringun's six Saltwater Groups and Girringun's Rangers to ensure on-country commitments and maintenance. 

From early childhood, Jade immersed herself in her family's cultural traditions. Attending meetings with her grandparents, Nanna Shirley Pryor (Clarke), a Girramay and Bandjin descendent and her Boompa, Adrian Pryor, a Ngaro and Kuku Yalanji descendent.

Through their strong connection to Girringun, she developed a profound generational bond with her heritage.

Jade's journey into her current role as the TUMRA Coordinator stems from her loyalty and love for the Girringun Elders and Traditional Owners and her passion for organising and coordinating events.

Recognising her talent, family and community members encouraged her to pursue the job she vowed to undertake when the time was right. 

Today, Jade's impact is palpable through projects like seagrass and dugong monitoring, where she protects Country and empowers others through engagement and employment opportunities.

Jade focuses on ensuring that Traditional Owners are seated at decision-making tables and have a voice in matters that affect their Land and Sea Country.

She loves seeing the Elders on their own Country and celebrating them throughout the year.

To the younger generation, her message is clear: education, cultural connection, respect, and perseverance are key to embracing opportunities.

She encourages the youth to seize each opportunity, cherishing and owning each wholeheartedly as she has.

Jade Pryor, a descendant of the Girramay and Bandjin people, has dedicated herself to preserving Girringun's cultural heritage, Land and Sea Country.

Incident response exercise bee

The 2023 state marine pollution response exercise bee was centered on a spill within Cleveland Bay and simulated oiling off Yunbenun (Magnetic Island) bays and the mainland coast between the Port of Townsville and Cape Pallarenda.

Participants from multiple agencies and jurisdictions were involved in roles from environment advisor, intelligence analysis, air, wildlife and marine operations, investigations, community engagement and messaging to various

field-based activities.

There were discussions, consultations, notifications, and advice sought from the Wulgurukaba People, including Gurambilbarra Wulgurukaba Native title applicants, the Yunbenun Advisory Committee and Yunbenun Rangers embedded within Queensland Parks and Wildlife.

Yunbenun rangers participated directly in the exercise, and with staff from the Reef Authority’s Traditional Use of Marine Resources team, enabled meaningful and timely discussion (actual and simulated) with Traditional Owners and dissemination of cultural information in an appropriate format that could be actioned by the response.

The exercise provided valuable training for officers and the response system.

As a result, Queensland is better prepared for any potential response requirements.

2023 state marine pollution response exercise bee was centered on a spill within Cleveland Bay and simulated oiling off Yunbenun (Magnetic Island) bays and the mainland coast between the Port of Townsville and Cape Pallarenda.

Australian Marine Sciences Association Conference

Earlier this month, members of the Reef Authority attended and presented at the Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA) conference on the Gold Coast - Yugambeh language area.

The theme this year was Science in Sea Country, recognising the enduring connection that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have with their Sea Countries and acknowledging the critical role that the ecological and cultural knowledge of Australia’s first scientists plays in the sustainability of our seas.

The Reef Authority was proud to be a gold sponsor of this event. This presented an invaluable opportunity for scientists and practitioners to exchange traditional knowledge and modern science.


Director of Science for Management, Dr Chloe Schauble, in a pre-presentation huddle with co-authors Chrissy Grant, Dr Leah Talbot, and Charles David. Jim Davis (not present), Chrissy, Leah, and Charles are the Traditional Owner members of the Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program (RIMReP)’s Executive and Operations Groups.

Darumbal TUMRA Community Day

The Darumbal TUMRA Community Day held at Emu Park on Friday 2nd of June brought together community members, visitors and representatives from various organisations. The event commenced with a Welcome to Country, setting the tone for a day of cultural celebration. 

One of the highlights for the day was the invitation for attendees to kick off their shoes and join dancers on the beach. Later, Leon Jackson from the Reef Authority spoke about the Darumbal Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement (TUMRA) and its profound connection to the Reef Authority’s work in preserving the marine ecosystem.

Following the speeches, the crowd was encouraged to explore the various stalls, have a yarn with some of the elders and participate in traditional activities throughout the day. 

The Reef Authority shared a tent with the Darumbal TUMRA staff to showcase the work that the Darumbal team have been involved in.  

For the younger attendees, the presence of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) vessels brought an additional element of excitement. Kids eagerly hopped on board for a glimpse of the vessels, sparking a sense of adventure and curiosity about the natural wonders of their surroundings.

Daraumbal TUMRA Community Day

Cuppa and a yarn with Malachi

When Malachi thinks about his Country: Port Curtis Coral Coast region and Bundaberg in particular, his mind floats away to the warm, golden stretches of sand and his family’s personal connection to a key time in Australia’s history. 

Today he is a reflection of Country and of Milbi (sea turtle). As Milbi did, Malachi has walked his beaches, swum his waters and is now on a journey of growth. 

Malachi grew up as the youngest in a large family which was instrumental in shaping his understanding of the importance of having a voice. His upbringing taught him the significance of actively participating in conversations, the power of effective communication, the value of diverse perspectives, the need to assert oneself, and the strength of collective action. These skills now enable him to protect Country, pursuing the sounds of change from the Grassroots to Reef management. 

Malachi acknowledges mentorship by Mr. Malcolm Mann as one of the keys to his success, and as his cup overflows, Malachi pours his energy into his family, his Darumbal mentee and to many others through his partnership with the Global Indigenous Youth organization. His message is of love, to turn the hatred that many feel to openness and to love people the way we love Country.

Malachi also teaches the youth to respect the Elders who are like libraries in his life and who allow others to see life through a cultural lens. He is grateful for the sacrifices and resilience that the Elders of Darumbal Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements (TUMRA) have shown and recognises their hard work landing the largest TUMRA in the region. It’s this accomplishment that will offer himself and the rest of his multi-generational team opportunities into the future. 

There is a reason why Milbi leaves its own Country, Malachi’s is a story of personal growth, reconciliation and to be the voice of change. One which he endeavors to continue: to protect and preserve both in human and spirit form. 

Port Curtis Coral Coast Traditional Use of Marine Resource Agreement

The Traditional Use of Marine Resource Agreement (TUMRA) Steering Committee meeting was attended well by Committee members and, most notably, was observed by several Elders representing each of the four groups covered under the Traditional Use of Marine Resource Agreement TUMRA.

A large contingent of Rangers from Gidarjil’s various Ranger programs also observed proceedings, as has been common practice for past meetings to support sharing of Traditional Knowledge. 

The remainder of the two days comprised interactive sessions toward developing an Indigenous Protected Area to give added layers of protection to the Sea Country and the values managed through their Traditional Use of Marine Resource Agreement. 

The specific objective of these initial Indigenous Protected Area sessions was to begin to adapt the five cultural pillars: Language Lines, Song Lines, Creation Story, Trading Routes and Lore, into their Indigenous Protected Area and Traditional Use of Marine Resource Agreement.

Port Curtis Coast Traditional Use of Marine Resource Agreement

Foundations Program

The latest Reef Joint Field Management Program (RJFMP) Foundation Program was held on 17-21 April.

The week-long training was a huge success, with 19 participants from Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services, the Reef Authority and Yunbenun Ranger group gaining insights into the complexity and variety of work the Reef Joint Field Management Program and partners undertake to protect the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Participants were presented with modules covering safety, reef science, governance, management, compliance, incident response and caring for Country.

The value and importance of this Program are recognised by the wide range of guest presenters who deliver many of the modules sharing their expertise with the cohort and being present to answer questions. 

Three days of workshops culminated in a field day on Magnetic Island, which included a visit to the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Yunbenun Ranger base.

This visit showcased a valued partnership between the Ranger groups working together with a common goal of preserving our World Heritage wonder. 

Register your interest in attending the next Foundation Program at

Joint Field Management Program - Foundation Progam

Updated 10 Jun 2024
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