The Nyanggan Gapi cafe has officially opened at Sealy Lookout.
The Nyanggan Gapi cafe has officially opened at Sealy Lookout. Jasmine Minhas

Change begins with a coffee at new cafe

WITHIN just a short 12 months, the Bularri Muurlay Nyanggan crew have come a long way from selling takeaway coffees out of a rental van.

The Nyanggan Gapi cafe at Sealy Lookout officially opened on Friday, a venture which not only showcases native indigenous flavours alongside a breathtaking view, but which acts as pivotal moment for the Gumbaynggirr community.

Executive officer of the Bularri Muurlay Nyangunn Aboriginal Corporation, Clarke Webb, said the cafe was a vital step in establishing the corporation as self-sustainable.

"What we're trying to do with our corporation is to revitalise our language and culture, and this cafe at Sealy Lookout is really important in doing that. Tourism is a very big part of what we do, and it's the only industry that combines the revitalisation of our culture with the building of an economy,” Mr Webb said.

"What we're saying to our kids now is that if you're passionate about your language and your culture, we'll have a job for you. Whether that be as a tour guide, barista, dancer or language teacher. That's what we're really trying to do.”

The cafe offers something unique for locals and visitors by incorporating native flavours into the food, such as lemon myrtle. The cafe also sources its coffee locally with the help of Artisti Coffee Roasters.

Apart from the newly opened cafe, the corporation also holds monthly Gumbaynggirr cultural showcase events at Sealy Lookout. It also holds Gumbaynggirr Language Revitalisation Programs, cultural camps and more.

"Just last year visitation in Coffs Harbour brought $5m into the local economy, and we're finally in the game now as a community.

"So imagine if we can tap into just 1% of that $5m, imagine the amount of jobs we can offer.

"My personal goal is to tap into 10% and if we can do that, we're going to make some serious, positive change in our community and start to drive our own way forward.”

Born and raised on the Coffs Coast, Mr Webb was a founding member of the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience while studying at the University of Sydney. Since then he has moved back home and is passionate about revitalising the Gumbaynggirr language and encouraging the educational and cultural achievement of Aboriginal youth.

"I'm really proud to be up here and speak some Gumbaynggirr today, but unfortunately for me it's not my first language,” he said.

"I've had to learn Gumbaynggirr for the last 11 years or so, and the reason for that is our language was actually banned from being spoken for a long time. Our community stopped speaking the language for a very long time as away to make sure the kids weren't taken away during the years of the Stolen Generation.

"So what's happened is our community has gone through this huge cultural devastation.

"It's left our culture in pieces, it's like a jigsaw puzzle we're trying to put back together.”

Sealy Lookout, located at Orara East State Forest, has seen - and continues to see - rapid and successful developments.

The recent installations of attractions including the Forests Sky Pier, Gumgali track and Indigenous cultural tours has seen the site boom in popularity.

Over the past five years, visitation increased on average 15% per year.

In the past year the area welcomed around 175,000 visitors.

Late last year even Hollywood heavyweight Russell Crowe shared his support, popping up to Sealy Lookout and stopping to order a coffee from the Nyanggan Gapi van, later tweeting his support for the corporation.

Forestry Corporation NSW has also recently announced a Treetops Adventure Park will be installed at Orara East State Forest in the coming months, a nature-based attraction which include zip lines and more.

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