Thursday, February 29, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

New Indigenous Animation Shares Creation Story Of The Reef

Passionate Indigenous owner, Robbie Congoo, is proud to release his self-funded 3.5-minute animated film about the creation of the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef.

For the past year, the project has been underway, and the completed animation is now showing as a ‘Ngaro Dreaming Story’ video on Cruise Whitsundays tours.

Robbie hopes the film not only opens eyes to Indigenous culture and history, but also encourages people to protect the local environment.  

Caption: Liza Muller, Sales and Marketing Manager for Cruise Whitsundays, Renee Branton-Brown General Manager of Cruise Whitsundays, Robbie Congoo and his wife Tara, Julia and Peter Farrell, Master Reef Guides from Reef Safari standing in front of the animated video. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

Raising The Representation

With Beautiful Animation

A recently released Traditional Owner-created animation video is the brainchild of Robbie Congoo from Yooribaya Cultural Experiences, a local entity which organises the performance of traditional smoking ceremonies and ‘Welcome to Country’ events across the region.

For several years, Robbie has been living in Townsville but driving down to the Whitsundays to work with school children, facilitate events and generally spread Indigenous education and awareness.

After many years travelling back and forth, Robbie, his wife Tara and their children decided to move to the Whitsundays and make it their home.

Robbie now works closely alongside many local tourism operators and through regular conversations with them, he realised there was a high demand for more Indigenous education for tourists visiting the area.

“We work with a lot of tourism operators and Master Reef Guides – teach them out culture such as our hunting methods and sacred sites,” explained Robbie.

“During these conversations they were asking about how they could share this knowledge in an appropriate way with their guests – how do we tell them about it?

“I thought this was an opportunity to create something really meaningful that would share our culture but also support businesses in the area.”

Robbie met up with his father and the pair came up with the idea of creating an animation.

From here, Robbie engaged with a Sydney-based animation company and worked closely alongside them to create the film.

“The animation talks about when the floods came through 10,000 years ago, using stories handed down of that event happening,” explained Robbie.

“It talks about how our creator spirit, the Rainbow Serpent, created the islands and the Great Barrier Reef to protect us from the floods.

“It then explains how it is now our obligation to look after and maintain the area.”

The animated film is now showing on the Resort Connection Ferries for Cruise Whitsundays, and Robbie is also in talks with other local operators, hoping the film can be spread more widely.  

Liza Muller, Sales and Marketing Manager from Cruise Whitsundays said they are honoured to share the animation with guests.

“We are so excited to be working with Robbie and helping to open up the Indigenous Tourism space,” she shared.

“This is a wonderful platform for Indigenous Owners to share their stories and educate guests, it’s such a great fit for us and the animation has been well received by everyone.”

Master Reef Guide and owner of Reef Safari, a company that offers scuba diving adventures alongside Cruise Whitsundays, Julia Farrell said the crew are all very excited and embrace the sharing of the new video and cultural story.

“International and domestic visitors are very interested in this knowledge and to have this created by Robbie in such a professional and artistic way and to be able to share it directly to our visitors reassures all the crew that the right story is being told by the right source,” she explained.

“We hope our work as marine tourism operators and Master Reef Guides on monitoring and managing the local reef, through our partnership with GBRMPA, along with the reef education we share with visitors and staff honours our traditional owners promise to protect the reef for future generations.

“We look forward to more collaboration with our local traditional owners to continue this legacy along with the sharing of their very rich and wonderful culture with all our visitors.”

Caption: Robbie Congoo and his wife Tara standing in front of the recently released animated video. Photo credit: Rachael Smith.

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