June 12th 2012
Wulgurukaba turtle art opened on Geoffrey Bay
It was a perfect winter's afternoon on the beach foreshore at Geoffrey Bay when about fifty Islanders and visitors gathered for the unveiling of an artwork by Magnetic Island Traditional Owner, Elder, Arthur Johnson, which seeks to draw attention to the need for protecting the beach foreshore where turtles are also know to nest.
Three levels of government including Federal Member Ewen Jones, State Member, John Hathaway and Townsville City Council’s Deputy Mayor and Magnetic Island Councillor, Vern Veitch, were on hand to officiate and a number of trees were planted.
And while Arthur Johnson was happy to let his artwork speak for him, the Wulgurukaba were represented by a number of members of the Johnson family. Michael Johnson introduced the visiting politicians and speakers and Lyell Johnson welcomed the group to the Wulgurukaba country.
Ewen Jones acknowledged the importance of community at such occasions, John Hathaway acknowledged the Traditional Owners and Vern Veitch spoke with some passion about the importance of protecting beaches from a gradually rising sea level which, “We don’t notice until we get two 4.2 metre king tides and cyclones.”
Vern, who has a science degree in geography and biology, was particularly adamant about the uselessness of rock walls as a solution. “Some say let’s build a rock wall. That’s how to lose a beach. Waves hit the rocks and wash back taking the sand with them. What’s really important is to help maintain the natural processes. (Geoffrey Bay Coastcare’s) Tony O’Malley, has tried to get as many as possible together. It’s hard to get community agreement but Council and Coastcare are working on that,” he said.
Cr Vern Veitch planted a tree with Ashley Lorraine who
was visiting from the Gulf of Carpentaria.
One of the main drivers behind the artwork’s placement, Vandhana, commented that it was very fitting that the artwork was installed in the same week in which the Mabo decision was being celebrated.
Tony O’Malley congratulated the local volunteers, “who love Geoffrey Bay”, as one of the most accessible Island beaches. “It’s up to all of us to protect and plant trees and to talk about it,” he said. He commended the Caring for Country funding the group had received and the support from Council.
Three levels of government working together. From left:
Ewen Jones, John Hathaway and Vern Veitch
Following the speeches it was great to see a number of trees planted - one of which saw all three levels of government, physically, working together as well as by some visiting Aboriginal people who attended the event.
Story and photos: George Hirst
For more photos of the event visit Magnetic Times' facebook page: (Click Here)
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