Thousands gather to embrace truth-telling at Pilk Purriyn

Published on 29 January 2024


Around 2,500 people gathered at dawn on Wadawurrung Country in Torquay today, 26 January, for Wadawurrung truth-telling event Pilk Purriyn.

Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation hosted the event beside the waves at Cosy Corner in collaboration with Surf Coast Shire Council and supported by Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority and the generosity of GeelongPort and Give Where You Live Foundation.

Following the success of last year’s inaugural event, Pilk Purriyn - now in its second year - provided an opportunity for members of all communities to gather and deeply listen to testimonials from Wadawurrung Traditional Owners.

Pilk Purriyn means sunrise in Wadawurrung language.

Three generations of Wadawurrung people were present for proceedings which opened with a traditional Welcome to Country, and Smoking and Dancing Ceremonies.

Aunty Mary Shuttleworth shared the stories of generations of women in her family line and the struggles they faced due to the impacts of colonisation.

It also recognised the proud survival and resilience of First Nations people, and preservation of culture, which has endured for tens of thousands of years.

Wadawurrung Elder Aunty Mary Shuttleworth said after the event: “When I looked up at the crowd and saw my Wadawurrung family, First Nations community and others, I felt both humbled and joyful. With so many people attending it gave me hope.”

Surf Coast Shire Council Mayor Liz Pattison said: “We gathered with open hearts and in respectful silence today and absorbed truths which have been obscured for too long by the telling of only one side of our colonial history.

“Surf Coast Shire Council is on a journey towards Reconciliation, and recognition of past wrongs, loss and hurt is essential to our progress.

“We acknowledge all that has gone before, and we thank Wadawurrung Traditional Owners for their strength and grace in sharing Pilk Purriyn with our community.”

Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation CEO Matthew Smith said: “It was a culturally enriching experience attending Pilk Purriyn today, and I acknowledge the bravery of all the Wadawurrung people involved in the truth-telling. The support from the crowd was certainly felt, and hopefully with a deeper understanding of culture and history, we continue to see the narrative changing.”

Great Ocean Road Coast & Parks Authority CEO, Jodie Sizer said: "Today, we gathered in a spirit of reflection, with hearts open to understanding, respecting, sharing and learning about often overlooked parts of our history.

“We extend our thanks to the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners for generously sharing their wisdom and appreciate the community for actively participating and embracing our joint commitment to recognition and Reconciliation."

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