As part of the project “Taungurung, restoring water, restoring Country” TCAC coordinated a three-day field trip to Reedy Lake Nagambie Wildlife Reserve in collaboration with the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (GBCMA), Parks Victoria and Goulburn Murray Water.
The main goal of this project is to protect cultural and natural resources on Taungurung country through restoring water to relevant sites, such as Reedy Lake. This project is a response to the outcomes of the Aboriginal Waterways Assessment conducted on Country with the support of MLDRIN in October 2017, where Reedy Lake was identified as being culturally and ecologically significant for Taungurung.
The field trip ran for three days during mid-August and is the first visit for the project, with three more to be conducted over the following months: October, December and March. This allows for a more comprehensive assessment of seasonal species and how they respond to changes throughout the year.
A total of seven Taungurung men and women participated in the assessment, along with TCAC personnel and representatives from GBCMA, the Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations (FVTOC), the Department of Environmental, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), as well as industry specialists.
The first two days consisted of an ecological assessment, where several of the surrounding areas were surveyed to identify and record vegetation species and coverage.
The last day was dedicated to performing a cultural heritage survey. During the morning, the group tried to relocate and describe some of the previously registered mounds (potential ovens) on the West side of the Lake. Eight mounds were detected in this area, with seven corresponding to previous registrations.
A spatial analysis was performed on the GPS coordinates of these previously registered mounds (performed around 40 years ago) and it revealed that many of the registered locations were inaccurate by more than 100 meters. This demonstrates the need to update and correct the previous registrations over the upcoming field trips to the area.
In the afternoon an area where no previous cultural heritage surveys had been performed, was chosen for preliminary inspection . In only two and a half hours, the group recorded 14 unregistered scarred trees and one small mound. The data collected is already being processed for registration onto the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Register, and for production of 3D models of the scar trees.
The visit allowed Taungurung People to reconnect closely with country and to engage directly with specialists and managers. This experience facilitates the sharing of knowledge between traditional owners, managers and planners; at the same time contributes building skills and capacity among participants to identify wetland features, flora and fauna and understanding water ecology.
The project “Taungurung, restoring water restoring country” will help TCAC to improve its participation in land and water management, gain confidence to discuss management of country in other scenarios; and it will contribute building partnerships, facilitating engagement and raising cultural awareness among managers and planners.