Navy students connect with the land

Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association executive officer Peter Aldenhoven, centre, takes maritime human resources officer course members on a tour of the Koorie bush tucker trail, during their visit to the association. Photo: Leading Seaman James McDougall

Navy students connect with the land

Students from HMAS Cerberus had a lesson in Indigenous culture on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula when they visited the Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association recently.

The maritime human resources officer application course students were greeted by Peter Aldenhoven, who is the executive officer of Willum Warrain, which means ‘home by the sea’.

He conducted a smoking ceremony by burning native herbs.

“The ritual is to acknowledge the ancestors and pay respect to the land, wildlife and waters of the country,” Mr Aldenhoven said. 

Mr Aldenhover then took the students around the Koorie Bush Tucker Trail and told the students how certain flora could be used to treat cuts and wounds. 

The group gathered salt bush and other native plants from the garden to cook up lunch to share with the Willum Warrain staff.

They also were told about the materials Indigenous people used to build shelters.

The half-day visit focused on the important connection between Indigenous culture, the land and its natural resources.

The group had the opportunity to ask Mr Aldenhoven questions.

One of the questions asked was: “If there was one thing that you would want people to know about Indigenous people and their culture, what would it be?”

“No matter where you go, learn about the local Indigenous community and have an understanding about the area,” Mr Aldenhoven replied.

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