About Us

DIRECTOR

ERNIE GRANT (Hon DLitt)

Dr Ernie Grant is an Elder of the Jirrbal people from the Tully area in North Queensland. He spent his first nine years living in the rainforest obtaining grounding in the traditional life of his people and credits his mother Chloe Grant, for instilling in him a great desire to learn all he could about his Aboriginal heritage.

Ernie has experience in western society including many years in research. He is now widely recognised in both cultures for his deep understanding of the unique characteristics of indigenous languages and culture.

Ernie has been working as a Cultural Research officer for the Queensland Education Department for many years. He presents at numerous state and regional education workshops and conferences. He has extensive knowledge and experience working within traditional Aboriginal, urban and regional Aboriginal communities, and also the wider non-Aboriginal communities in Australia.
 
Ernie’s workshops will provide a basis for the holistic study of indigenous cultures. Indigenous communities have a holistic view of their world, which incorporates the vital link between Land, Language and Culture. This view is significantly different from what is considered the norm in western society.
 
Many academic researchers have been keen to draw on his knowledge in the fields of ethno-botany, spirituality and mythology. Ernie has had a long and varied career, and a lifelong passion for education and for sharing his understandings with educators from around the world.

DIRECTOR

SONYA JEFFREY

Managing Director

Sonya is the youngest daughter of Ernie & Enid Grant of Tully, Far North Queensland. Sonya identifies as a Jirrbal woman and has had the privilege of learning her language and culture by her Elder and father Dr Ernie Grant. As Managing Director Sonya leads the company and develops the corporate culture for the organisation. It is Sonya’s responsibility to manage everything.

This includes staff, the customers, the budget, the company’s assets and all other company resources to make the best use of them and increase the company’s profitability.

Sonya also plays the part of Marketing Manager which links well and complements her official position as Managing Director. As Marketing Manager she is required to develop and enhance upon the current marketing strategy, measure success and budgets, approve images and most importantly ensure a strong marketing brand both domestically and internationally in the tourism industry.

Sonya also wishes to enhance upon the company’s profile to create and implement authentic cultural experiences that visitors from around the world have the opportunity to immerse themselves in when wanting to learn about Aboriginal Australia and its unique diversities.
 
Sonya also writes and implements educational programs to enhance the cultural learning experience, promotes understanding of the local Aboriginal culture, assists in establishing group objectives and processes, manages facilitation, develops group outcomes and finalises group processes.
 
Sonya is an enthusiastic, dedicated and accomplished natural communicator on any level. She has an infectious spirit and an agile mind, which encourages people to want to work with her and want to see her succeed.

DIRECTOR

CAROLINE GRANT

Operations Manager & Senior Tour Guide

Caroline a descendant of the Jirrbal people of Far North Queensland, acknowledges and credits her parents ‘Andrew and Desley Henry’, for teaching her the importance of her cultural heritage and values.

Caroline’s mother, Desley Henry was a well known Aboriginal artist and was highly recognised for her artistic talent in the traditional arts of bi-corneal basket weaving and traditional painting.

Caroline is a Director in the company but also holds the position of Operations Manager and Senior Tour Guide. Caroline’s main aspect of the job is to ensure the daily functions and operations of all tours, activities and programs and that each activity operates smoothly and efficiently as per each itinerary.

Caroline has spent time consulting local Elder Dr Ernie Grant with regard to local flora and fauna, use of bush foods and the holistic parameters of the ‘Spirit of the Rainforest Tour’.
 
Caroline has developed a variety of Indigenous guiding experiences in the time that she was employed with Echo Adventure and Cultural Camp. These experiences have ranged from school based groups, tourism industry trade and media and corporate groups all of which have experienced seeing local Aboriginal culture through Caroline’s eyes.
 
Caroline epitomizes characteristics of intrinsic Australian Aboriginality. As the Senior Tour Guide she brings deep knowledge of her country and people and shares this inclusively and warmly with her visitors.

TONYA GRANT

Tour Guide/Aboriginal Artist & Weaver

Tonya is a descendant of the Jirrbal people in Far Northern Queensland. Tonya is an expert weaver of the Jawun (dilly bag) a traditional bicornual basket woven with a particular species of lawyer cane. The Jawun (dilly bag) is very unique to the culture of Rainforest Aboriginal People. There are now only a handful of people in the Jirrbal, Girramay and Gulngay tribal groups who can still master this rare art form and we are very honoured that Tonya is one of these talented people.

Not only is Tonya an expert weaver but she has also chosen to follow in the footsteps of her greatest role model her mother ‘Desley Henry’, and make her presence known in the field of authentic traditional Aboriginal painting. Just recently Tonya was accepted to participate in a workshop with Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre in an assignment to place traditional stories through art on Queensland’s famous tilt train operated through Queensland Rail.
 
The train looks amazing as it travels up the east coast of Australia between Cairns and Brisbane with unique and varied Aboriginal traditional and contemporary art forms printed on the trains carriage.
 
As a recognised painter Tonya draws on traditional tribal colours, patterns and designs for her inspiration. Her work has been included in many exhibitions and one of her works was selected to promote the Gallery Smith in Melbourne in 2009.
 
Her work is held in a number of private and institutional collections including the Art Gallery of South Australia, Queensland Art Gallery, the Cairns Regional Gallery and Parliament House Art Collection -Canberra.
 
Tonya is an excellent tour guide and her passion for sharing culture with visitors shows when on tour with Tonya. She has a wide knowledge of her culture and language and acknowledges her parents ‘Andrew & Desley Henry’, for passing this knowledge down to her and her siblings.

DONNA HENRY

Tour Guide/Weaver

Donna is a descendant of the Jirrbal people near Tully, Far North Queensland. Donna is the second youngest daughter of ‘Andrew & Desley Henry’, and like her older sister, Tonya Grant, Donna also is a master and expert in the fine arts of basket making.
Donna has been weaving since she was 7 years of age and enjoys working with people who show a genuine interest in her culture. Donna also masters the bi- corneal weave technique which is a trademark of the Jirrbal, Girramay and Gulngay Rainforest Aboriginal people.
 
The Jawun (dilly bag) is only unique to Rainforest Aboriginal People. Donna also is identified as one of the remaining few from the Jirrbal people who can still master the art of this basket.
 
Donna is new to tour guiding but has often assisted her older sister Tonya with the weaving activity when handling larger tour groups. Donna is certainly a joy to listen to as she patiently teaches her clients the history and knowledge of why basket weaving was so important in Jirrbal society. We look forward to seeing Donna grow within the company.

The Ingan Team

Left to Right:  Donna Henry, Tonya Grant, Sonya Jeffrey & Caroline Grant

Links:

http://www.iba.gov.au/welcome-to-issue-seven-of-inspire/living-culture/