Traditional owners of Port Stephens
The Worimi people have always been, and remain, the traditional custodians of a large area of land in Port Stephens on the NSW coast that is considered Worimi Country.
Aboriginal ‘Country’ is more than land, and includes all living things. It incorporates people, plants and animals, and embraces the seasons, stories and creation spirits. Country is both a place of belonging and a way of believing, and is central to Worimi culture.
Worimi Country was generally bounded by four rivers – the Hunter River to the south, Manning River to the north, and the Allyn and Patterson rivers to the west – and included the adjoining ocean and waterways.
Worimi Country was home to 18 clan groups or ‘ngurras’, with the Worimi Conservation Lands falling within the area of the Maiangal ngurra. All spoke the Gathang language.
Traditionally, the Worimi people used the beaches to travel between the northern and southern parts of the Worimi Conservation Lands. We know these areas today as Nelson Bay to the north and Stockton to the south.
Much of Worimi Country has changed dramatically since 1788, and dispossession has had significant impacts on Worimi people and their culture. As a result, the granting of the freehold title over the WCL means it is of particular significance to the Worimi. Unlike the majority of their Country, it is an area where the protection of Worimi cultural values has priority in Australian law, where decisions affecting Worimi Country and culture are made by Worimi people through their majority representation on the Board of Management, and where Worimi traditional owners are employed to implement these decisions.