Bidjara people looking after their cultural sites

Sunday 21 September, 2008

Indigenous Programs Manager Sarah Eccles reports on the partnership between Bush Heritage and the Bidjara people in Queensland.

Ochre on Carnarvon Station Reserve, Qld. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.

Ochre on Carnarvon Station Reserve, Qld. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.

Carnarvon Station Reserve, acquired by Bush Heritage in 2001, lies within the traditional lands of the Bidjara people and is situated within the Queensland Uplands and Brigalow Belt anchor region.

In May 2007 Bidjara community representatives and Bush Heritage staff began working together at the reserve to record and manage its rich cultural sites and values.

One of the cultural areas that has been identified during this collaboration is the colourful Ochre Pits, often referred to as the Paint Pots because of the array of ochre colours found there, from rich purples to reds, yellows and oranges.

The Ochre Pits have traditionally been used by the Bidjara people for rock art, ceremonial purposes and the painting of members of the Bidjara Dance Troupe, as well as for contemporary artworks.

Bidjara trainee Richard Mailman shows off the new fence, which protects the Ochre Pits from feral horses. Photo Matt Warnock.

Bidjara trainee Richard Mailman shows off the new fence, which protects the Ochre Pits from feral horses. Photo Matt Warnock.

One of the major concerns of the Bidjara people was that the pits were being damaged by feral horses.

The horses were eating the ochre, thereby undermining the pit face and causing erosion and the collapse of the fragile substrate.

The management recommendation was to fence off the site and this work was completed in June 2008 by Bidjara Carnarvon Station trainee Richard Mailman, Carnarvon Station trainee Matt Warnock and Bidjara fencing contractor Victor Coulahan.

The fencing will protect the Ochre Pits from further erosion by feral horses and ensure that this valuable resource continues to be available to the Bidjara people.

This project is just one example of how the Bidjara people and Bush Heritage staff are working together to protect and conserve Carnarvon Station’s significant cultural values.

Bush Heritage would like to acknowledge the generous support of the Thyne Reid Foundation, which made this work possible.

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