The Saltwater Story


Upon becoming a father, award-winning author Benjamin Allmon realised he knew nothing of the indigenous history of his home, the land of the Saltwater People, to teach his son. So he embarked on a voyage of discovery that led him further than he ever expected.

Guided by canoe maker Kyle Slabb from the Bundjalung people, veteran paddler Mark Matthews and a group of young Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men build traditional canoes and embark on a 3-day sea voyage re-tracing an ancient trade route from the heart of the Queensland Gold Coast to North Stradbroke Island, a journey not made for over 100 years.

What started as one man’s attempt to educate himself became something far bigger: a book, and a documentary film.

It is a story of connection – not just between the Saltwater People, but between generations, between black and white, between land, sky and sea.

It is a story of collaboration – whether it is made from bark or dugout, no one makes a canoe alone.

It is a story of co-operation – the paddlers must work together if they are to get anywhere in these shark- infested waters.

And it is a story of continuance – of ancient knowledge now held by just a few, of ensuring that tomorrow’s elders are brought along for the journey today.



Kyle Slabb - Canoemaker
Mark Matthews - Veteran Paddler
Benjamin Allmon - Paddler
Jarulah Slabb - Paddler
Kyle Matthews - Paddler
Banahm Slabb - Paddler
Bijang Slabb - Paddler
Malachi Urquart - Paddler
Brandon Matthews - Paddler
Travis Simon - Paddler
Video/DVD release date
17 October 2018
PG - Parental guidance
Ronin Films
Kyle Slabb, Benjamin Allmon, Corrina Bonshek

With Robert Anderson, Quandamooka Elder
Josh Walker, Quandamooka Songman
Che Walker, Quandamooka Musician

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Harvard citation

Korff, J 2019, The Saltwater Story, <>, retrieved 10 July 2020

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