Australia’s oldest boat delivers flames for Sydney smoking ceremony

As the clock ticked past 6:30 a.m. Thursday, the Tribal Warrior pulled into Walsh Bay just as the sun was creeping over the finger dockyards.

Australia’s oldest working wooden boat was en route to Me-Mel (Goat Island) to collect the flame for the 20th anniversary of the morning WugulOra (a mob) ceremony at the Barangaroo Reserve.

The island in Sydney Harbor was once home to Eora man Woollarawarre Bennelong and is set to be returned to the Aboriginal community over the next three years.

Built in 1899 on the islands of Torres Strait, Tribal Warrior is engraved with First Nations artwork and words from coastal communities across the country when the boat circumnavigated Australia in 2001.

After a life as a pearl hauler, it was used by the US Army during World War II before being adopted by the Ganabarr Morning Star clan, the traditional people of the Gove Peninsula in Arnhem Land. The ship is now owned by a Redfern-based social enterprise that provides maritime skills and job opportunities to Indigenous youth.

As the crew of three docked at Me-Mel and raised the Aboriginal flag high above the boat, Wajji Warhu (Anthony Kemp) brought the flame down to take it to Barangaroo, where hundreds of people awaited the incense ceremony.

Crew members Craig, Tom and Kel hoist the Aboriginal flag after Tribal Warrior docked in Me-Mel.

Crew members Craig, Tom and Kel hoist the Aboriginal flag after Tribal Warrior docked in Me-Mel.Credit:Nick Moir

The ceremonial flame is lit on the evening of January 25 and burns throughout the night, symbolizing the survival of the world’s oldest culture.

Just hours earlier, the Sydney Opera House had lit up with a design by Kamilaroi woman Rhonda Sampson, whose artwork Diyan Warrane was projected onto one of Australia’s most famous screens, celebrating the First Nations women who lived and fished in the waters of Sydney Harbour.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/tribal-warrior-fetches-flame-from-island-to-sydney-smoking-ceremony-20230126-p5cfmc.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national Australia’s oldest boat delivers flames for Sydney smoking ceremony

Callan Tansill

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