Chereninup Creek Reserve. Photo Jiri Lochman / Lochman Transparenices.
Bush Heritage Indigenous Partnership Officers Ken Hayward and Sarah Eccles explain the cultural heritage assessments being undertaken at Chereninup Creek Reserve.
Noongar traditional lands extend across the Gondwana Link properties in Western Australia, including Chereninup Creek Reserve. In May, Noongar Elders and young Noongar people, and staff from the Gondwana Link partner organisations, began an assessment of the cultural values of Chereninup Creek Reserve.
After several visits, numerous sites had been identified. They included several with scatters of stone artefacts, lizard traps or lizard habitats made out of stone slabs, and one stone quarry. At one of these sites there were over 300 artefacts.
One of the Elders remembers her family using the lizard traps at a particular site when she was a child.
Noongar students surveying the revegetation areas. Photo Joe Dortch.
This assessment is part of a broader regional project called the Linkage Project. It's a partnership between Bush Heritage, Greening Australia (WA), the University of Western Australia, the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council, the Restoring Connections Program, the South Coast Regional Initiative Planning Team and the South West Catchment Council.
‘Elders have the vision for our people to be on country and realise the need for our youth to learn culture …
This work has initiated a way for our people to not only return to country but also provided a path for our youth to learn more about Noongar culture, heritage and skills they can use towards employment. One of the real benefits is witnessing the growth in self-esteem of the youth. This project means this can happen.
Noongar students at a site where stone tools were found. Photo Joe Dortch.
– Ken Hayward, Noongar Indigenous Partnership Officer
The Linkage Project aims to improve the community’s understanding of Noongar values and knowledge of the area. Undertaking cultural heritage assessments of the areas important to Noongar people is a major component of the project. These assessments are guided by the Elders and include Noongar youth so that cultural knowledge and practices can be passed on.
The staff of the partner organisations are also providing training in archaeology and contemporary natural resource management.
Cultural heritage management plans will be produced both at the regional level and for individual properties. They will identify how cultural places, values and resources should be protected and managed. These plans will be integrated into the broader regional natural resource management process.