For two years every week this class of dedicated students have turned up at the Muurrbay Language Centre in Bellwood to learn Gumbaynggirr and how to teach it.
Now these students, many of whom already teach Gumbaynggirr, have graduated and are set to share their deeper knowledge in schools around the region.
"It was a very proud moment to see these students achieve what they have been working so hard towards," Muurrbay CEO Gary Williams said.
"The classes were after hours, for four hours, so most people came after work, one from as far away as Corindi, north of Coffs. Everyone showed real dedication and commitment."
The Certificate III in Gumbaynggirr Language and Culture Maintenance was taught by Brother Steve Morelli with the support of Dallas Walker, Virginia Jarrett and Micklo Jarrett and is the first course of its kind to be completed.
Special guest speaker at the February 16 event was Gumbaynggirr man and former senator, Aden Ridgeway, who presented the certificates.
The goal is to have it spoken in our homes, but that will take a while longer.Gary Williams
Gary said it was deeply satisfying to hear Gumbaynggirr being spoken around the language centre.
"It has taken 30 years but we are getting there - the goal is to have it spoken in our homes, but that will take a while longer."
He said reviving a language was hard work but the centre continued to work with communities and support the following languages: Awabakal – Wonnarua, Bundjalung, Darkinyung, Dhanggati, Gathang (Birrbay, Warrimay & Guringay), and Yaygirr – Yaegl.
"The Dhanggati group suffered a body blow with the death of Aunty Esther Quinlan, but they are picking themselves up. A lot of new language resources have been developed, so it is gaining its foothold in the Kemspey region."
And talking about revival, thanks to a grant from the Office of Environment and Heritage, the centre itself has had a facelift … or as linguist Mari Rhydwen puts it, lifesaving surgery.
"The building was riddled with white ants. It is a heritage site, important to the Aboriginal community here since 1952, and the grant came from the 'Heritage Near Me' program.
To celebrate you are invited to an Open Day at Muurrbay on Saturday, March 16 from 11am to 2.30pm - there will be language activities, mini classes led by the graduates, a film, story-telling and songs.
"The day will be an opportunity to come and see where we are and what we do - it will be a chance to talk to a linguist and hear the local language being spoken," Mari said.
Everyone is welcome - Darruyay yilaaming ngujawiny