Pilk Purriyn

Pilk Purriyn 2024 web banner updated.jpg

Image credit: Darcy Keir

Pilk Purriyn is a truth-telling event presented by Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation in partnership with Surf Coast Shire Council.

Everyone is welcome to come together for deep-listening and reflection at sunrise on 26 January 5.30am. The event begins with a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony from Wadawurrung Traditional Owners.  

Register now

Frequently asked questions

About this event:

What does “Pilk Purriyn” mean?

Pilk Purriyn means “sunrise” in the language of the Wadawurrung People, the Traditional Owners and first people of the land where this event is taking place.

The choice of holding the event at sunrise is a deliberate decision to symbolise the dawning of a new era of understanding and Reconciliation between all people in the community.

This event is an opportunity for First Nations and non-First Nations people to gather together and acknowledge the learned history and to deep listen.

What is the Pilk Purriyn event about?

Whether it is referred to as Survival Day, Invasion Day or the National Day of Mourning – as it was back on the 26th of January 1938, when Aboriginal People formally protested about the “seizure of our country” and “callous treatment of our people” – January 26 is an important date in Australia’s history.

It marks the day that the First Fleet landed at Sydney Cove and raised the Union Jack flag to claim ownership of Australia on behalf of Britain.

Many Australians are ready to learn the truth about what has happened since that day by acknowledging that genocide and colonisation are actually a large part of the history of this nation since 1788.

Pilk Purriyn is an event that invites you to listen, reflect and understand why this is not the date to celebrate.

Read more about the 1938 Day of Mourning

What will happen at this event?

There will be a Welcome to Country ceremony and Smoking Ceremony, speakers engaging in truth-telling about the history of the First People of the land and the terrible injustices they have experienced, and continue to experience, since settlement and colonisation.

There will also be Cultural dance and song.

How long has this event been going?

The first Pilk Purriyn truth-telling event was held at 5:30am on 26 January 2023.

The organising committee, from Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation and Surf Coast Shire Council, expected perhaps 200-300 people might attend the first event. In reality more than 2000 people - both First Nations and allies - turned out to hear the truth-telling and witness the ceremony from Wadawurrung Elders and Leaders that morning.

People traveled from across the Surf Coast Shire, Bellarine Peninsula, Geelong, one couple even drove from  Gisborne to attend.

The misty rain, and cloudy skies only added to the atmosphere of contemplative silence as more then 2000 souls gathered in peace and harmony to deeply listen and understand. 

Whose Country is the Pilk Purriyn event on?

This event is on Wadawurrung Country.

Surf Coast Shire Council is lending its support to Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation to put on the Pilk Purriyn event in Torquay for the entire community.

Read more about the Wadawurrung People and their history

I’m not an Aboriginal person, can I still attend?

Yes, absolutely. Everyone is welcome to attend the Pilk Purriyn event.

The event is presented by Wadawurrung Traditional Owners with the support of Surf Coast Shire Council and the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority.

In the words of Wadawurrung Traditional Owners: “koling-wada-ngal” let’s walk together.

What are Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremonies?

The Pilk Purriyn event will begin with a Welcome to Country ceremony and Smoking Ceremony by Wadawurrung Traditional Owners.

During the Welcome to Country ceremony everyone is invited to quietly gather and listen as a Wadawurrung Elder formally and traditionally welcomes everyone to their land.

Then during the Smoking Ceremony, Wadawurrung Elders will create smoke from damp eucalyptus leaves. Smoking ceremonies are an important ritual that promotes healing and cleansing.

Read more about Smoking Ceremonies

What is an Elder?

In their book Nganga: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Words and Phrases, authors Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson define an Elder as: “a highly respected person in Aboriginal communities and the custodian, or caretaker, of a clan’s knowledge and lore….As a sign of respect, male Elders are called Uncle, and females, Aunty. Elders have permission to share cultural matters where necessary. In Aboriginal culture, Elder is spelled with a capital letter.”

Why is Surf Coast Shire Council not celebrating Australia Day as it has in the past?

In September 2021, Surf Coast Shire Council made the commitment to no longer participate in any celebrations marking Australia Day. 

Read Council's statement

The federal government declares 26 January as a public holiday and Surf Coast Shire Council is unable to make a decision to change this.

Council has advocated for changes to the federal government requirement to conduct Citizenship Ceremonies on this date and, out of respect for First Nations people, will not be conducting a Citizenship Ceremony on 26 January 2024.

Given the federal government declared public holiday, Council offices will not be open on this day. 

How is this event funded?

Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation is grateful for the generous support of the Pilk Purriyn 2024 event by Surf Coast Shire Council, Great Ocean Road Coast & Parks Authority, Give Where You Live, GeelongPort, Patagonia and Barwon Water.



Event logistics

Do I need to make a booking for this event?

Bookings are not essential, but we would like you to register.

The link is at the top of this page.

As this is the first event of its kind in Surf Coast Shire, we do encourage you to register for this event. Registrations will help give us an idea of how many people we can expect to attend. It will also allow us to communicate with you if you have a question or we need to contact you about the event. 

How long does it go for?

Pilk Purriyn begins at 5:30am and will conclude at approximately 7am. However you may like to stay a while for a yarn over a cuppa and some something delicious from the Blak Brews coffee van that will be on site.

What do I need to bring?

  • A picnic rug (if you don't want to sit on the grass)
  • Your “keep cup” if you plan to purchase a hot beverage.
  • A warm jacket, even in summer it can be chilly at sunrise.
  • A torch (or use torch function on your phone) because the event starts at 5:30am, just before sunrise. Please note there will also be low-level path lighting and marshals on site with torches to light your way.
  • Please note, if you need a seat, low festival chairs only are suitable for this event. If you have accessibility concerns please get it touch via email: pilk-purriyn@surfcoast.vic.gov.au

Where should I park?

Parking is available along Anzac Parade, Point Danger and Voss car park.

Parking for people with disabilities, VIP’s and Emergency Services will be available at the Cosy Corner car park, off The Esplanade.

The friendly staff from Indigenous-owned Larrakia Bilirra traffic management will be there to guide traffic.

Please allow plenty of time to find a carpark and walk safely to the event site at Cosy Corner.

Will there be any food/drink available?

First Nations owned and operated hot beverage van Blak Brews will be on site selling their native blend teas and ethically sourced coffee.

There will also be a selection of yummy breakfast items available for purchase, including banana bread with lemon myrtle butter, almond croissants and jaffles. 

Please bring along your own “keep cup” if possible, so that we can help minimize waste.

Can I take photos/video?

No, we ask you to please put away your phone so that you can be fully present at this event.

Wadawurrung Elders will be sharing stories and theirs is an oral tradition which is not to be recorded without permission. Their knowledge and stories have always been passed down from person to person. They did not need to be written down or recorded.

We ask that everyone shows respect by deeply listening and refraining from taking photos or video of this event.

Can I bring children?

Yes, this is a family friendly event.

There will be speakers at this event engaging in truth-telling about actual things that happened to their Ancestors, Elders, family members, or themselves.

If you would like some help in explaining the nature of this event to children, there are several fantastic books available at your local bookshop or library.

Find books discussing 26 January

Where are the toilets?

There are public toilets on site at Cosy Corner Beach.

Is there wheelchair access?

This is an outdoor event at Cosy Corner Beach, which is not currently an accessible beach.

This event is held on uneven ground, consisting of grass and dirt. We recommend anyone who may find the terrain or lighting difficult to arrive early with a support person if required.

The event begins when it is still dark. Event marshals will be in place to help light the way, but please bring your own torch. 

If you have accessibility requirements, please email pilk-purriyn@surfcoast.vic.gov.au and we will endeavour to assist.

Can I bring my dog?

No sorry, with the exception of Guide or Assistance Dogs, please don’t bring your dog to this event.

Cosy Corner Beach is a dog-free area

What if it rains?

In the case of very wet or dangerous weather conditions the Pilk Purriyn event will not go ahead.

This decision to cancel the event will be made the day before and publicised via the websites and social media channels of the Surf Coast Shire Council and Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation.

Please register so we can contact you directly as well.

What if it is a catastrophic fire risk day?

In the event of a catastrophic fire risk day the Pilk Purriyn event will not go ahead.

This decision to cancel the event will be made the day before and publicised via the websites and social media channels of the Surf Coast Shire Council and Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation.

Please register so we can contact you directly as well.

Will the Pilk Purriyn event be live streamed?

No, this event will not be live streamed or recorded. It is an in-person event, meant to be experienced in real time.

Wadawurrung Traditional Owners will be sharing ceremony, knowledge and stories as part of their oral tradition.

Everyone is invited to listen deeply and show respect by being present and in the moment.

Do I need to be able to see?

No, Pilk Purriyn is a deep listening event as Wadawurrung Traditional Owners share knowledge, story and truth-telling.

The visual presentation will be the natural beauty of the Pilk Purriyn (sunrise) over Warri (salt water), symbolising the dawning of a new era of understanding and Reconciliation between all people in the community.

Wadawurrung People will be engaged in dance during parts of the event. This is their cultural practice, rather than a show everyone must watch.

All speakers will be able to be clearly heard across the site, thanks to an excellent sound system.





  • Friday, 26 January 2024 | 05:30 AM - 07:00 AM


Cosy Corner Beach, Torquay, 3228