Sunday, 26 May 2019

Gunditjmara: honouring the past and the present

The Guardian, 10 January 2017. Photo Budj Bim

The Guardian, 23 May 2019. Photo Denis Rose

The volanic eruption of Budj Bim (Mt. Eccles) around 30,000 years ago was witnessed by the Gunditjmara people and the subsequent lava flow formed rock over an area 18 kms long & 8 kms wide.

This easily worked, durable rock turned the people into stone masons and around 6,600 years ago allowed them to create one of the world's largest aquaculture systems.

The Guardian, 23 May 2019:

A 6,600-year-old, highly sophisticated aquaculture system developed by the Gunditjmara people will be formally considered for a place on the Unescoworld heritage list and, if successful, would become the first Australian site listed exclusively for its Aboriginal cultural value.

Known as the Budj Bim cultural landscape, the site in south-west Victoria is home to a long dormant volcano, which was the source of the Tyrendarra lava flow.

The Gunditjmara people used the volcanic rock to manage water flows from nearby Lake Condah to exploit eels as a food source, constructing an advanced system of channels and weirs. They manipulated water flows to trap and farm migrating eels and fish for food. It is one of the oldest aquaculture systems in the world.

On Tuesday night in Paris, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, which works for the conservation and protection of cultural heritage places around the world, officially recommended world heritage status for Budj Bim. The nomination will be formally considered by the world heritage committee in the final step in the process in July.

The Budj Bim cultural landscape is largely managed by the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, who also protect the Gunditjmara-owned properties along the lava flow. The project manager and also elder, Denis Rose, said the homes challenge the idea that all Aboriginal people were hunter-gatherers.

“There are around 200 registered and recorded stone house sites, so people were living a sedentary life,” Rose said. “The area had such a reliable water supply from Darlot Creek, and the traditional name for that creek is Killara, which means ‘always there’. It’s a very appropriate name because even during the dry this year, it was still running.”

The Gunditjmara traditional owners have led the process to have Budj Bim added to the world heritage list, and Rose said the recognition would lead to the site being better protected and managed.

Read the full article here.

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