Culture should shape how we think about our spaces
Their shared love of the ocean's fish was what sparked a connection between Nathan Galluzzo and Arakwal man Norm Graham.
That connection is closely linked to some of the stories shared in an exhibition Mr Galluzzo, a masters student in landscape architecture at the University of Technology Sydney, has put on show in a free exhibition at the Byron Lighthouse Cottage.
Nathan Galluzzo has focused on stories tied to Tallow Creek in his work.
Arakwal residents Norm Graham and Delta Kay and former Dunecare volunteer Helen Brown were among the contributors.
"This was a masters research project at UTS in landscape architecture," Mr Galluzzo said.
"It kind of materialised first and foremost through a summer elective.
"We came here and just really broadly looked at Tallow Creek and … the complexities of that natural environment."
He also looked at competing interests in the space.
"This landscape is governed by a lot of stakeholders," he said.
"A lot of them have their part to play within the system and what we discovered was there's … things that get missed.
"Those things were the spiritual aspects, the cultural aspects, a person's connection."
His work has intertwined stories of connection to country with data and science.
This includes detailed fish mapping alongside Mr Graham's stories of different places, and artworks that complement the data sets and stories.
He has also used video as part of the work.
"As I was speaking to Norm (I saw) there was a real gap, there was a gap of understanding," he said.
"It … was missing these personal ties and how, ancestrally, they connected to the landscape."
Mr Graham said it was great to be involved in the project.
"We wanted to be able to start recording and documenting our stories but also in a way that you had a multitude of different ways it was expressed," he said.
"Being able to have all these other elements come together in a way that provides more detail that particularly decision-makers and those who plan for country understand it's more than just saying country is important to us.
"It's important for all these different reasons an they're all related together. The creek, the ICOLL (intermittently closed and open lakes and lagoons), the beach."
Professor Penny Allen said many people didn't understand the complexity, or natural change, of an ICOLL although they are more common on the NSW coast than anywhere else.
"They're all contested landscaped because people want to live next to them," she said.
"Once people start living next to them you start getting all sorts of conflicts with the environment and social and cultural issues."
Our Special Place - Tallow Creek is at the Lighthouse Cottage, Byron Bay from Wednesday, March 10 to Friday, March 12 from 10.30am to 3.30pm.
For group bookings of more than six people or tours, phone 0459 541 230.