Treasurer Blake Cusack graduates the Cert III in Gumbaynggirr Language


Membership to the Muurrbay Co-operative is open to all.

  • To be  an active member you must attend Muurrbay’s language and culture programs at least four times per year. 
  • Full membership is open to people of Aboriginal descent. 
  • Associate membership is open to people of non-Aboriginal descent.
  • Junior membership is open to Aboriginal people aged seventeen years and under. 

Please enquire at the Muurrbay office or via email, for an ‘Application for membership’ form.

Muurrbay Board

The Muurrbay Board of Directors consists of seven Aboriginal people including Chairperson, Treasurer and Secretary. The Directors meet quarterly to guide Muurrbay as a regional language centre and registered training organisation.

Gary Williams – Director

Gary is the CEO of Muurrbay, a Gumbaynggirr/Bundjalung man who grew up in Nambucca Heads in his mother’s country. He realised the importance of maintaining cultural knowledge and spent as much time as he could learning from Elders such as Tiger Buchanan and Uncle Charles Moran. He went to the first Gumbaynggirr classes at Muurrbay and has worked on Gumbaynggirr language reclamation for over twenty years. Gary managed Koori Broadcasters in Nambucca Heads and has presented a ground-breaking language program on ABC radio with Fi Poole.

Along with Dallas Walker and Gugs, Gary made up the team whose in-depth research led to the publishing of the Gumbaynggirr Dictionary-Grammar and the Collected Stories. Gary also worked closely with researcher Ian Sim to bring back his valuable records of Gumbaynggirr Elders.

When Muurrbay expanded into a Regional Language Centre in 2004, Gary played a central role as regional language researcher, supporting the revival of seven languages, including Bundjalung, his father’s language. Gary’s language and cultural knowledge and his deep understanding of linguistics underpins Muurrbay’s support of NSW coastal languages. 

Michael (Micklo) Jarrett – Chairperson

Micklo joined the Board in 2018 and was elected Chairperson in 2019, he brings a wealth of experience in Aboriginal languages revitalisation and education. Micklo is a qualified Early Childhood teacher, completed the Cert II and IV in Gumbaynggirr and completed a Masters in Indigenous Languages Education.

He has taught Gumbaynggirr in pre-schools, schools and at Muurrbay and TAFEs and is currently teaching in many communities and online. Since 2014 Micklo has been engaged by the Department of Education as Head Aboriginal Language and Culture Trainer for the Gumbaynggirr Language Nest.

Micklo would like to see Muurrbay develop a top-class Language App and online course, as well as running regular community Language classes that focus on spoken Gumbaynggirr, as well as classes that support Gumbaynggirr educators in lesson planning and resource development.

Blake Cusack – Treasurer

Blake became a Board Member in 2020. As a Dhungutti/Bundjalung woman living on Gumbaynggirr land, Blake brings a ‘multi-national’ perspective to the Board, which informs Muurrbay’s regional Language work. 

Blake graduated from the Cert III in Gumbaynggirr in 2020 and found it helped both her language knowledge and her teaching skills. She loves her work in Aboriginal support at Woolgoolga High School, and in teaching language at school and in the community. 

Blake would like to see more Gumbaynggirr Language teachers and a range of Language courses offered at different levels, to enable more community members to get involved.

Uncle Martin Ballangarry OAM– Director

Uncle Martin has been representing the Aboriginal community as a Nambucca Shire Councillor since 2004, helping to protect their interests at the local government level. In 2006 Uncle Martin received an Order of Australia medal for his services to youth in the Nambucca Valley. Uncle Martin is a long-term supporter of Muurrbay, regularly attending language classes and singing and performing at special events.

He is passionate about Gumbaynggirr language and culture, leading the Gumbaynggirr Dancers, training up the next generation, as well as singing in language in his band, Jumbaal Dreaming.

Martin brings many skills with him as a Director including his valuable experience as a Gumbaynggirr Elder with knowledge of the local community, Gumbaynggirr culture, music and art, as well as long term experience on Local Council. He would like to see Muurrbay expand to include a performance space where Gumbaynggirr people can develop and share their music and stories from the Dreaming to the present day.

Pauline Hooler – Secretary

Pauline Hooler

Jinda Pauline has been a Board Member since 2003 but her connection with the Muurrbay building goes back to when it was the church of Bellwood Mission, “I virtually grew up in this church.” 

As a local Gumbaynggirr woman, she brings a wealth of culture and language knowledge to her position on the Board. She started learning Gumbaynggirr while she was also completing an Aboriginal Studies Course and was instrumental in them incorporating Aboriginal languages into that Course. Pauline has worked in Administration at Muurrbay, so understands how the office runs, and the procedures associated with funding and reporting. When schools first asked for teachers, Uncle Ken said, “Well you’ve got teaching experience and you’ve done your Cert II” and jinda was one of the first to teach in schools.

Pauline has a vision of Muurrbay developing a Keeping Place to store precious cultural items and as a venue for community events like wakes, family reunions and NAIDOC week. She sees the creation of a timeline display, starting with the Sherwood mob, then all the things that have been achieved since then, with photos of those who made it happen. 

Aden Ridgeway – Director

Aden is a Gumbaynggirr man, born just up the road from Muurrbay in Bellwood, at Macksville and brings a wealth of experience to the Muurrbay Board. He was an ATSIC Councillor and Executive Director of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council before joining the Australian Democrats in 1990. He was a Senator (1998 – 2005) and Deputy leader (2001 – 2002) during which time he fought for the rights of Indigenous peoples across Australia and addressed the United Nations Special Session on Racism. Aden is also a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) where he specialises in looking at issues of goverance and how this affects Aboriginal communities.

Aden received the NAIDOC Person of the Year award in 2005. He partnered with Tim Powell to establish Cox Inall Ridgeway, a social change agency that seeks to disrupt Indigenous disadvantage. In 2013, Aden became a spokesperson for the campaign to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution.

He has strong values and belief around the importance of family and community and believes that Muurrbay plays a significant role in the strength of Gumbaynggirr power, identity and connection to country and community. For Aden, Gumbaynggirr culture and identity is the well-source of our ancestry and the continuity and connection to Gumbaynggirr values and beliefs, bringing about strength and healing within community. Language will always be vital in this process … it empowers and heals!