Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Co-operative (GEGAC) in Bairnsdale kicked off its NAIDOC Week celebrations in style on Tuesday with a special ceremony to welcome babies to country.
Under a bright blue East Gippsland sky, local Aboriginal Elders sat relaxed in the sunshine, wearing their distinguished possum skin pelts, as 83 babies were presented to them and formally welcomed to country.
Aboriginal babies, who reside in colder areas of Australia, have traditionally been given a possum skin pelt and as they grow they receive another pelt, or kangaroo skin to be sewn to the other.
By the time they reach adulthood, they have a lovely warm pelt that has been stitched together during their formative years.
The skins of the pelts are usually engraved with traditional Aboriginal markings that identify where baby came from and other information, such as seniority.
Students from Nagle College, Bairnsdale Secondary College, TAFE, the Clontarf Foundation and Girls at the Centre were responsible for engraving the pelts for the 83 locals babies.
PICTURED: Carole George, of Bairnsdale, with 15-month-old Dakotah Ryan, who was resplendent in purple as she received her own little pelt skin and a special Welcome to Country by Elder, Uncle ‘Butter’ Solomon, at GEGAC’s NAIDOC Week celebrations on Tuesday.