Bidjara cultural connections at Carnarvon Station Reserve

Friday 21 September, 2007

Bush Heritage Indigenous Partnership Officer Sarah Eccles tells of the involvement of the Bidjara people at Carnarvon Station Reserve.

Carnarvon Station Reserve lies within the Traditional Lands of the Bidjara people. It's a rich and significant cultural landscape and there's abundant evidence of a long and continuing connection between the Bidjara people and their country.

Bidjara community members and Bush Heritage’s Indigenous Partnership Officer during the cultural heritage assessment (from left: Brendan, Sarah, Richie, David, Victor, Keelen, Travis, Floyd and Cissy [front]). Photo Darren Larcombe.Bidjara community members and Bush Heritage’s Indigenous Partnership Officer during the cultural heritage assessment (from left: Brendan, Sarah, Richie, David, Victor, Keelen, Travis, Floyd and Cissy [front]). Photo Darren Larcombe.

There are extensive rock shelters covered in rock art and engravings, scatters of stone tools and flakes across on the slopes of the ridges and scarred trees along the terraces and banks of the Channin Creek. Bidjara people and Bush Heritage staff are working together to identify, record, understand and manage these cultural sites.

In May 2007, Bidjara community representatives, together with Bush Heritage staff, conducted a cultural heritage assessment. They visited and recorded information at seven sites including the colourful ochre pits, an important resource which continues to be used for painting by the community.

‘All of these sites, whether it be one scar tree or a grinding stone, are all important, as it's evidence of our people, my relatives being here and that I am walking in their footsteps. This means a lot to me and I have a responsibility to look after these places,’ said Keelen Mailman, Bidjara community member.

Keelen Mailman at one of the Bidjara art sites. Photo Sarah Eccles.Keelen Mailman at one of the Bidjara art sites. Photo Sarah Eccles.

A cultural workshop planned for September will involve the Bidjara Elders. They'll visit and record more places of significance to the Bidjara community. The knowledge gained through these cultural workshops will provide the basis for a cultural heritage management plan for Carnarvon Station Reserve. It will integrate the cultural and environmental values of the landscape and ensure that Bidjara representatives and Bush Heritage staff work together to manage and protect these values.

‘We're happy that Bush Heritage are doing this, looking after our country and sites. Other than our [Bidjara] people owning and managing Carnarvon, we couldn’t ask for a better mob. You mob have been respectful, providing access and consulting traditional owners and community members in management of our sites,’ said Floyd Robinson, Bidjara Cultural Heritage Officer.

A Bidjara trainee will begin work at Carnarvon Station Reserve in August 2007 supported by the Rick Farley Memorial Scholarship. This trainee will assist at both the reserve and Mt Tabor Station, a nearby pastoral lease managed by Bidjara people.

The trainee will develop skills and experience in conservation and land management through on-the-job training and mentoring.

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