The Saltwater Story is the narrative of Benjamin Allmon, Bundjalung-Yugambeh canoe maker Kyle Slabb, and veteran paddler Mark Matthews. They embark on a 70 kilometre, three-day canoe journey from the Gold Coast to North Stradbroke Island to trace a traditional indigenous journey.
This epic sea voyage has connected the Goories or Saltwater People across the water from the Gold Coast to North Stradbroke Island over thousands of years. The documentary focuses on Ben’s personal motivation to recreate the journey and facilitating the team.
Benjamin Allmon says. “This project has been the last four years of my life. Not long after becoming a Dad I realised that if my son asked me one day about the indigenous history of the Gold Coast, I wouldn’t know what to say. So, I decided to find out. The book starts with this realisation, and goes from there, through years of research, to meeting Kyle, to making the traditional canoes together and then paddling them together. It follows how personally difficult reconciling the two cultures within a project is… and ultimately how rewarding. I am immensely proud that we made the canoes, and that I got to paddle the three-day journey alongside the next generation of Saltwater men… I am deeply and permanently changed by the experience, and I now have a story to tell my son – The Saltwater Story.”
The inclusion of a group of young Bundjalung, Yugambeh and Quandamooka men in this project provides viewers with a rare insight into a rite of passage. The result is a story of connection and cooperation – not just between the Bundjalung- Yugambeh people and the Quandamooka people, and between the generations.
I enjoyed seeing how the canoes were made. The collaboration is joyous to watch as the team overcome hurdles to reach their destination.
“We are all an accumulation of our stories, we carry them and they are carried to us by many vessels. The Gundal is one of them that carries story to us and carries us into story… this story has been carried by our Ancestors to us, the Gundal carried them into that story and now it will carry us into our story…we will carry it to our Grandchildren and maybe with this knowledge the Gundal will carry them into theirs,” said Kyle Slabb, Canoe Maker and Cultural Liaison.
The Saltwater Story aims to present a storyteller’s unprecedented passage into a piece of First Nations culture that is rarely offered to someone outside of the Bundjalung people. It’s a heartwarming story about working together and keeping our traditions alive.
Benjamin’s voyage with Kyle and his family has resulted in a documentary, as well as a fully illustrated book and exhibition.
The book, e-book, and DVD can be purchased at https://www.benjaminallmon.com/film