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A Salty tale that inspires a new generation...


Gold Coast: 8th May 2018 - Award-winning Gold Coast author, Benjamin Allmon and Bundjalung-Yugambeh canoe maker, Kyle Slabb have collaborated with renowned photographer David Kelly and former ABC producer and filmmaker Jeff Licence to document their epic 70km three-day sea journey following an ancient First Nations maritime trade route in traditional canoes. This treacherous sea voyage has connected the Goories or Saltwater People across the water from the Gold Coast to North Stradbroke Island for thousands of years. The Saltwater Story documents Benjamin’s passage into a piece of First Nations culture that is rarely offered to someone outside of the Bundjalung/Yugambeh people. This voyage with Kyle and his family has resulted in stunning documentary, a beautiful coffee table book as well as an exhibition which will launch on Friday 18th May 2018 at HOTA, Home of the Arts on the Gold Coast.

The inspiration for the project was a balance between black and white, which is beautifully reflected in the book’s black and white images that have been masterfully collected by David Kelly. The inclusion of a unique group of young Bundjalung, Yugambeh and Quandamooka men in this project provides viewers with a rare insight into a rite of passage for the next generation. The result is a story of connection, collaboration and cooperation – not just between the BundjalungYugambeh people and the Quandamooka people, but between generations, between black and white, between land, sky and sea. It is also a story of continuance – of ancient knowledge now held by just a few who are ensuring that tomorrow’s elders are brought along for the journey today.

HOTA, Home of the Arts will host the launch on Friday 18th May commencing at 5.30pm in the Lawn Bar with the exhibition, followed by a screening of the documentary at 6.30pm. The event will feature selected photos from the journey as well as the canoe that was built by hand for the project by The Saltwater Story crew.

With HOTA, Home of the Arts coming on as an Official Foundation Partner, The Saltwater Story is also supported by the Australia Council for the Arts, and the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland. The Saltwater Story has also received funding as part of the The Regional Arts Development Fund which is a partnership between the Queensland Government and the City of Gold Coast Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.

Producer & Writer, 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.”

Within the Bundjalung-Yugambeh Language Chain there are many stories of the sea and one of those makes mention that these areas were first settled by the Three Brothers and their descendants. The story tells of three Brothers that arrived by sea in a canoe, establishing fresh water sites, tribal laws, bora rings and traditional knowledge for generations to come.

The Saltwater Story is a true collaboration utilising First Nations locations, government assistance and collaborators from across Australia to engage both the non-First Nation and First Nation communities to ensure this knowledge is transmitted to the next generation. It partners the landscapes of forest with the sea and will culminate in a remarkable legacy that will see the canoes and a portion of the profits from the book returned to the First Nations community - where they can be used for educational purposes, as the basis for cultural tourism or other future projects.

“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 & Cultural Liaison.

Benjamin Allmon & members of the cast and crew are available for interview by pre-arrangement. For media enquiries please contact, Aisling Gilhooly, Publicist M: 0424 520 345 | E:

Bookings for the launch can be made via HOTA, Home of the Arts website:

The book, e-book and DVD can be purchased at:

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