Unkya Local Aboriginal Land Council Cultural Ecotours in Scotts Head

UNKYA ECOTOURS: Rich palette of bush tucker collected around Scotts Head
UNKYA ECOTOURS: Rich palette of bush tucker collected around Scotts Head

The overwhelming thirst to better understand her roots, her country and her language, saw Belinda Donovan cut short her legal studies at the University of Sunshine Coast in Queensland and head home to Macksville.

"I started studying law because I wanted to help people here who were dealing with the justice system, help to break the cycle of incarceration," Belinda said.

"But I was just so homesick - I felt home was calling me so I returned. That was in 2013 and I started working with Chels Marshall in the Gumma Indigenous Protection Area, just next to Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park."

This, plus the fact her mother Michele Donovan, together with Lisa Wilson, had already founded the Unkya Local Aboriginal Land Council Cultural Ecotours back in 2009, is what led Belinda to where she is now ... a guide taking school groups and visitors on walking tours around the Scotts Head area, sharing stories and teaching bush tucker.

"Mum grew up on the Bellwood Mission and on weekends the families would head into the bush, they'd walk and walk and learn the stories and the indicators for the seasons and the foods.

"It was not easy - they had to evade the Aboriginal Protection Board, running between houses to share shoes before the officers arrived to check."

When I catch up with Belinda at Scotts Head, it is late in the afternoon. We sit down on the sand at Little Beach ... the sky above is clear, the sea is calm and the colours crisp.

She starts telling me the story about the two goanna sisters, who made the ocean that surrounds of our island home with their chanting and their digging sticks.

She shares connected stories about the creation of waves, the tides and the Pleiades constellation ... precious Gumbaynggirr nation stories connecting these people to their land.

FRUIT OF THE SEA: Turban snails are an easy seaside source of protein

FRUIT OF THE SEA: Turban snails are an easy seaside source of protein

We move onto looking at and tasting some bush tucker - pig face ( worm treatment), grevillea (water source), warrigal greens (the original spinach), turban snails and more - all have their role to nourish and heal.

Belinda and her brother Michael are the two main guides for the Unkya LALC cultural tours, of which there are two, both listed on the Destination NSW website.

Their logo includes the willy-wagtail, gunjrr gunjrr, the messenger bird - how perfectly apt.

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