The St George Illawarra Dragons ‘Close the Gap’ round acknowledges traditional custodians of this land.
It is very interesting to note that the Dragons catchment area very closely mirrors that of the lands of the traditional clans of the Dharawal nation.
The Dharawal language was spoken and understood from the southern banks of Botany Bay, west towards the Blue Mountains and Goulburn, and as far south as Bega.
Local aboriginal artist Kevin Butler, when asked to design the 2014 Dragons indigenous jersey, decided to highlight a symbol of local aboriginal significance.
Amongst his designs was the Flame Tree and the Humpback Whale.
Our traditional owners have always had a strong connection to country.
The land and sea, all fauna and flora had special significance.
Clan groups in the area had different roles. While some had the responsibilities for looking after the water supply, others had fish, or the kangaroo, or the possum, the grasses, the trees.
In the coastal areas, the Flame Tree (Weery Wegne) was of particular significance.
It was vital to the people as it was integral in the supply of fish.
The soft spongy bark was used to make string for nets and fishing lines.
A clan would have had the responsibility of protecting these trees.
The seeds were also a food source, ready to eat once the yellow casing were removed, tasting very much like pistachios.
‘Close the Gap’ is Australia’s largest ever campaign to improve the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Dragons Community helps promote this message at a local level through supporting programs such as the Myimbarr Learning Centre in Wollongong and the Jervis Bay Primary School/Wreck Bay program.
The Dragons will host approximately 300 participants and families from both the aforementioned programs.