Cultural connection at Neds Corner
More than 80 people journeyed through time during an Indigenous Heritage day at Neds Corner Station in the Mallee on Saturday 28 October.
This sprawling 30,000 hectare former sheep station was once part of the famed Kidman empire. Purchased by Trust for Nature in 2002, it is now the largest private property dedicated to conservation in Victoria.
But it also has a rich Indigenous history dating back more than 15,000 years.
La Trobe University archaeologist Dr Jillian Garvey has been visiting Neds for several years to study sites that include a shell midden 400 metres long and 50 metres wide. It's full of fragments from mussels and snails harvested from the Murray River.
But Dr Garvey freely admits her research has barely scratched the surface.
"There is a huge amount yet to discover," she told visitors. "In fact, every time we come out here we find something new."
Dr Garvey led walks to see middens, a scar tree that provided bark for canoes and shields, and an oven mound where clay balls were used as heat beads.
Smoking ceremony and silence
Parks Victoria ranger Damien Jackson spoke about his work on significant sites in the region before conducting a smoking ceremony for visitors.
He was preceded by Ngintait traditional owner Tinawin Wilson and his niece Tameka who led the welcome to country.
Tinawin, whose name means "Black Bream of the River", also encouraged guests to participate in a minute's silence in respect of past Elders. He later accompanied people on a cultural tour, sharing his knowledge of country including plants used in traditional medicine.
This Trust for Nature event was co-hosted by La Trobe University and First People of the Millewa-Mallee Aboriginal Corporation.
Trust for Nature thanks the following people who played leading roles on the day: local volunteers Garry and Trish Kelly; Mallee CMA's Leigh Pyke; Daniel Burton who provided a new take on bush tucker including quandong jelly slices; and Associate Professor Richard Cosgrove from La Trobe University.
The university is preparing a Cultural Heritage Management Plan that will help Trust for Nature look after significant Indigenous sites at Neds.