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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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traditional owners

Taungurung people to jointly manage Buffalo and part of Alpine National Park

On 26 October 2018 the Victorian Government, the Taungurung Land and Waters Council Aboriginal Corporation (TLaWCAC), and the Taungurung Traditional Owner group signed a suite of agreements under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic), and related legislation. The agreement was signed after a 15-year campaign by traditional owners and three years of settlement negotiations.

The Recognition and Settlement Agreement has now come into effect. This means that ownership of nine Victorian parks and reserves, include Mt Buffalo National Park and a section of the Alpine National Park, and up to five surplus public land parcels have been transferred to the Taungurung Traditional Owner Group.

Continue reading “Taungurung people to jointly manage Buffalo and part of Alpine National Park”

Traditional names for ‘Australian’ mountains

I am keenly aware that no Aboriginal group or nation ever ceded it’s land to the colonisers. So those of us living in Australia are all living on stolen land. There is a lot of unfinished business that needs to be resolved, starting with negotiating a meaningful treaty between First Nations and the rest of the people living on this continent.

For a long time, indigenous people and traditions were white washed out of mainstream narratives about the mountains. As traditional owner groups reassert their connection to Country, that is slowly changing, and we can see it across the Alps. The first Aboriginal person I knew who had a strong connection to the mountains was Eddie Kneebone, who I met through our campaign work in north east Victoria in the 1990s. He had an astonishing depth of knowledge. He was instrumental in the campaign to have the Niggerheads on the Bogong High Plains renamed. It got me thinking about the power of language and names.

Continue reading “Traditional names for ‘Australian’ mountains”

‘Logging operations shut down in Big Pats Creek, Warburton, Kinglake ranges and Baw Baw’

Logging continued in many places around the country during the COVID-19 lock down. Environmental activists and locals concerned about logging operations were disciplined and largely stayed at home during the pandemic.

Now, this long wait has overflowed into action. In Tasmania, people have occupied trees in forest being cut near Mt Field. On the south coast of NSW, the community of Manyana is opposing the destruction of unburnt forest for a housing development, and now actions have happened across the Central Highlands of Victoria. This follows sustained action by locals at Big Pats Creek near Warburton.

Continue reading “‘Logging operations shut down in Big Pats Creek, Warburton, Kinglake ranges and Baw Baw’”

Aboriginal Artefacts and What to do When you Find Them

Back in 2003, massive bushfires exposed a rich Aboriginal heritage across the Victorian Alps. 1.1 million hectares of land was burnt, and it led to the discovery of huge numbers of artefacts and sites linked to indigenous habitation of the High Country.

As one example, at the Dinner Plain airport site, on the high ridgeline that leads from Mt Hotham to Cobungra, and which is recognised as an ancient travel and trade route, more than 46,000 artefacts were found. As a result of the fires removing so much vegetation, in total 350 new sites were found across 14 alpine areas in Victoria. This sparked a rethink of how First Nations people had lived in the Alps.

It highlighted the fact that life in the alps was good pre invasion: as an archeologist said at the time, “people were up here eating very, very well’. Foods included bogong moths, daisy yams, emus, kangaroos, wallabies and lots of fruits and berries. As a result, large numbers of people lived in the high country during the summer months. It also highlighted the number of travel routes into the mountains from surrounding low land areas and the fact that people klived for much of the year in some high elevation sites

The fires of 2019/20 also burnt large areas of the high country, and will have exposed additional artefacts.

Continue reading “Aboriginal Artefacts and What to do When you Find Them”

A new (old) name for Mt Kosciuszko?

Of course, all of Australia is indigenous land, including the Alps. Despite colonisation and dislocation, Aboriginal communities have maintained connections with the Alps and have been re-asserting that connection in recent years.

Traditional owner groups have been involved in reclaiming of language, and this includes advocating for landscape features like mountains being re-named with their original or other relevant names.

This happened in the case of The Jaithmathangs, a rocky peak on the western side of the Bogong High Plains, which had previously been called The Niggerheads. They were renamed in 2009, after consultation with the Indigenous community.  The Jaithmathang are an indigenous group with connection to the High Plains. This renaming has happened extensively in The Grampians in western Victoria, which are also known as Gariwerd in one of the local languages, either the Jardwadjali or Djab Wurrung language. Peter Gardner has recorded the extensive range of indigenous names to be found in the Victorian Alps.

There has been a long conversation about the name of our highest mountain, Kosciusko. There have been proposals for dual naming – using the current name in conjunction with a traditional name (as happens with Uluru/ Ayers Rock).

It would appear that the push is gaining momentum.

Continue reading “A new (old) name for Mt Kosciuszko?”

Taungurung sign Native Title deal with VIC government

Victoria has signed the largest native title claim in the state’s history, recognising the Taungurung as traditional owners in across large sections of northern and north eastern Victoria and awarding a settlement of more than $33m. The agreement covers sections of the high country and Alpine National Park, including Mt Buller, Mt Cobbler and the Buffalo Plateau.

Continue reading “Taungurung sign Native Title deal with VIC government”

Gunaikurnai and Taungurung negotiate boundaries in the High Country

The Gunaikurnai and Taungurung Traditional Owner groups have connection to the Victorian Alps over thousands of generations, and in recent years they have been reasserting that connection.

Recently they have sought support form the Victorian government’s Right People for Country program to help clarify the boundaries between their respective countries. The Right People for Country Program supports Traditional Owners groups in the process of making agreements:

  • between groups – about boundaries and extent of Country
  • within groups

In general terms in this part of the Alps, Gunaikurnai country is in the catchments south of the Great Dividing Range while Taungurung country is on the north side of the divide. This process allowed the groups to clarify the boundaries for a section of the divide between Warburton and Mt Hotham.

Additionally, Taungurung and Gunaikurnai agreed to seek shared joint management of the Alpine National Park, valuing this as an opportunity for both groups to have increased involvement and greater influence over the management of Country.

Continue reading “Gunaikurnai and Taungurung negotiate boundaries in the High Country”

Monaro Ngarigo people to be formally involved in management of Kosciuszko NP

The Aboriginal people of the New South Wales southern Snowy Mountains will be formally involved in the conservation of Kosciuszko National Park, after reaching an agreement years in the making.

The following story comes from the ABC.

Continue reading “Monaro Ngarigo people to be formally involved in management of Kosciuszko NP”

Monaro dieback brings science and Aboriginal knowledge together

Mountain Journal has previously written about the die back of eucalypts that has been occurring on the Monaro tablelands on the eastern side of the Snowy Mountains.

The dieback has affected a massive area, leaving a sea of “dead, standing trees” across the tablelands.

No one is, as yet, certain about the causes. It has been suggested that climate change is an underlying cause because background warming may have helped the spread of the weevils and stress on the ribbon gum trees that have died.

Continue reading “Monaro dieback brings science and Aboriginal knowledge together”

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