The Gathang country canoe is on exhibition at Manning Regional Art Gallery until July 21

For thousands of years the people of the Gathang speaking nation made and used canoes from stringy-bark and blackbutt trees to explore the waters around Forster and the Wallis Lake system, the Manning, Hastings and Wilson River systems.

Mid Coast residents have until Sunday, July 21 to view the Gathang Guuyang, a canoe that was created in 2012, the first of its kind made in more than 150 years.

It is on display at Manning Regional Art Gallery, accompanying Jason Wing's exhibition What Binds Us and the 'Sea of Bellies' NAIDOC Week exhibition that features artworks from the Biripi and Worimi communities, celebrating motherhood.

Gallery director Rachel Piercy was present when the canoe was made. It was made from the bark of a blackbutt tree that was sourced on Gathang Country.

"It really is a sight to behold and we hope many locals will visit us to appreciate the workmanship and the importance of showcasing Aboriginal cultural objects," Rachel said.

This canoe was officially launched on Sydney Harbour in May 2012 at the Australian National Maritime Museum's NAWI Indigenous Watercraft Conference complete with fire and cabbage tree palm paddles.

Seven years on it is still a functional canoe. Rachel explained it has received no special treatment, being left to the elements. It is a stable craft, capable of carrying two adults.

The Gathang Guuyang is the result of years of research into traditional customs and building techniques. The process to create the canoe is particularly refined and methodical.

The selection of a tree to create a Guuyang is very important and the tree must be straight, large and free from knot holes, cracks or disease.

The bark then needs to be heated and folded at the ends to form the canoe shape, before being secured with stakes and vine using the traditional local methods. Clay from Tobwabba (meaning 'place of clay') is used to plug the ends and to create a fire mound in the canoe.


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