On Sunday morning more than fifty kids, locals and from as far as Doomadgee (north west Queensland), made a splash at the Burra Jurra Surf Day held at The Pass. Participants in the program, co-hosted by Steve Foreman from Surfing Far North Coast, Gavin Brown from the Bundjalung of Byron Bay Aboriginal (Arakwal) and helped by a handful of generous volunteers, welcomed a cool southerly change and a great reprieve from the hot northerly winds of late.
The Burra Jurra (meaning ‘seashell’ in local dialect) surf program has been operating for several years now and offers Indigenous kids from all around the region an opportunity to immerse in the ocean, to be playful and to reconnect to country through their experience. Usually the program attracts young people of the greater Byron and Lismore area by offering a bus pickup service.
This particular event, however, the last of 2014, enticed a dozen youngsters (as well as Aunty Rhonda and Aunty Rosie) from Doomadgee.
Many of those kids had never seen the ocean before, let alone the surf, so it brought them great delight. They were able to attend thanks to the Show Me Your World tour put together by the Waanyi people, Doomadgee State School and Griffith University. This tour also included a trip to Stradbroke island, a theatre show of the Lion King in Brisbane and cultural exchanges with several schools and their local custodians.
The Doomadgee kids were incredibly attentive, fit and agile, perhaps as a result of extensive time spent on the Nicholson River, riding bulls and breaking in wild brumbies. From their stories, it was obvious these country kids know how to play hard!
More than ten coaches from all around the shire and various surf schools pitched in on the day to ensure the best surf coaching and water safety.
After surfing, local Arakwal Delta Kay from National Parks took the visiting kids for a walk around the lighthouse and explained many of the significant elements of the Cape, mythologies and dreamtime stories.
Afterwards everyone joined together for lunch, more storytelling and fun activities alongside surf celebrities Dustin Hollick and Dave Rastovich.
Owing to recent government budget cuts, the Burra Jurra program no longer receives its allotted funding and is struggling to continue. You can donate to Surfing Far North Coast, BSB 012 554, ACC 235423251.