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‘Te bandola nginak’ means welcome in the language of the Yorta Yorta people, and that’s what you will feel on Dharnya Day during NAIDOC week.

Dharnya Day shares and celebrates the culture and survival of the Yorta Yorta people, and the broad shelled turtle is their Aboriginal totem animal.

Helping to care for these turtles is Brad Broadhurst, who is also a Job Coach with atWork Australia. Brad is a volunteer for Turtles Australia, a conservation group that educates people about turtles and helps them survive in their natural habitat.

Brad makes the annual trip to Dharnya Day in the Barmah State Forest, about 2 hours north of Melbourne, to share in the NAIDOC celebrations, uncover our rich Aboriginal history, and ensure the survival of this Yorta Yorta totem animal.

“The broad shelled turtle is endangered in Victoria and I am very passionate about their survival and ongoing protection. We are doing our best to boost their numbers through our conservation efforts. This includes increasing awareness through public events like Dharnya Day,” says Brad.

Dharnya Day is especially significant for the Yorta Yorta people, who traditionally inhabited the area around Goulburn and the Murray River in Victoria and southern New South Wales. Being river based, most of their time was occupied by fishing, as the majority of food that was provided came from the rich network of rivers, lagoons, creeks, and wetlands which are still regarded as the life source and the spirit of the Yorta Yorta Nation.

Brad uses Dharnya Day to learn more about the Yorta Yorta culture and provide turtle educational sessions for families.

“The Yorta Yorta have occupied this land for thousands of years, so its very special to be a part of their celebrations and the local area. The day is fun and educational for everyone.

There are Yorta Yorta dancers, stalls and food, children’s activities, and special guest performances.

I’m looking forward to this year’s Dharnya Day, our nation coming together as one, and the survival of this wonderful totem animal. This event is the perfect way to experience NAIDOC Week and allows everyone to celebrate our Aboriginal culture.”

If you would like to be a part of Dharnya Day, visit the NAIDOC website. NAIDOC Week begins Sunday 3 July. For more information go to:

To find out more about the Dharnya Centre visit:

Turtles Australia are always looking for volunteers to assist with their conservation activities.

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