South East Landcare, Hovells Creek and Boorowa Community Landcare Group joined forces last week and held a two-day Aboriginal cultural heritage workshop for local farmers.
Farmers learned how to recognise and record sites on their properties, what legislation says and how to try and manage and protect those sites in the context of running a farming enterprise.
An important part of the workshop was learning how to look at the landscape through Aboriginal eyes to understand what it could tell you about what had gone on there.
The program was funded under the NSW Landcare Working Together program, which aims to build engagement between Aboriginal communities and Landcare and to help share traditional land management practices.
South East Landcare coordinator Linda Cavanagh said they chose to focus their efforts on a workshop where Aboriginal people could teach farmers about their culture in a supportive and non-threatening context and look at cooperative ways of protecting it on farms.
The workshop was presented by Senior Land Services Officers (Indigenous Communities) Graham Moore and Greg Ingram from South Coast and Central Tablelands Local Land Services, assisted by Orange Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) officers Doug Sutherland and Wayne Wright.
The first day began with a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony by local Wiradjuri man Murray Coe, followed by a day of classroom learning before an overnight camp over.
Attendees on day two put their newfound knowledge into practice, recording sites on a local Wyangala farm for the Department of Environment’s Aboriginal Heritage Information Management System. Farmers also learned some simple management strategies to avoid damage to sites. The instructors freely shared a range of knowledge, including various uses of plants, how the stone of truth is used to solve disputes and how Aboriginal cultural heritage is a living thing that can talk to you if you learn how to listen.
In the evening, around the campfire, Doug Sutherland gave an insight into Aboriginal stories in the stars and how the position of different constellations at different times of the year tells Aboriginal people about food resources and land management.
Feedback from farmers was uniformly enthusiastic and positive, including that they felt comfortable asking what could be considered difficult questions.
Hilltops News to your inbox
Sign up now for the latest news from the Hilltops Area direct to your inbox.