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Documentary hopes to ‘make a splash’ at ATOM Awards

Media release

In 2014, the first ‘all Aboriginal’ relay team swam into the history books as they completed the Rottnest Channel Swim.

Sally Goldrick, lecturer with the School of Media Culture and Creative Arts at Curtin University, captured these moments and is now able to share them with the world with the documentary Whadjuk to Wadjemup.

“One day I was having a discussion with a former colleague, Dennis Simmons from the TV program Noongar Dandjoo, who mentioned he was part of a group that were training to become the first all Aboriginal relay team in history to swim in the Rottnest Channel Swim,” Ms Goldrick said.

“I asked him why there had been no team that had attempted this in the past and he responded with two very good reasons.

“Firstly, Rottnest Island or Wadjemup as it is known in the Nyoongar community, was a prison for Aboriginal people in the 1800s to early 1900s. Thousands of Indigenous men and boys were held as prisoners there during this time and several attempts were made to escape Wadjemup and swim back to Perth (Whadjuk),” Ms Goldrick said.

“Another reason was that the swim begins at Cottesloe Beach, a region that the local Aboriginal people traditionally called the ‘home of the shark.’ A Nyoongar creation story warns Aboriginal people not to swim in the area unless you want to end up as shark fodder.

“I knew that despite this dark underlying history, this was a positive story that needed to be told and watched by the next generation,” Ms Goldrick said.

As the producer, co-director and as one of the camera operators, Sally was present during all of the filming, from the initial training sessions and practice open water swims to the final event.

“Watching and capturing on camera the swimmers crossing the finish line and holding up the Aboriginal flag was such a special moment,” Ms Goldrick said.

The film has been nominated for an Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM) Award in the short-form documentary category. The ATOM awards recognise film and media excellence in education and industry and will take place in Melbourne on 26 November.

Whadjuk to Wadjemup is available to view online through SBS On Demand and will also occasionally air throughout the year on NITV.

Note to Editor:
• Additional images from the film are available upon request.
• A press kit for this film is available from Talkabout Productions and can be issued upon request.
• Additional film credits for Whadjuk to Wadjemup include:
• Sally Goldrick: Producer and Director
• Dennis Simmons: Writer and Director
• Renee Kennedy: Executive Producer
• Plus others as per listed in the press kit.