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Traditional Owners build connections to icon site

An overnight camping trip west of Mildura has allowed Mallee Traditional Owner groups to see first-hand the operation and impacts of a major environmental watering project they helped to plan.

Traditional Owners build connections to icon site

Mallee CMA's Ken Stewart, Peter Kelly and Darren Brown at Mullaroo

Lindsay, Mulcra and Wallpolla Islands are wetlands rich in cultural and environmental values and cover over 26,100 hectares of River Murray floodplain, forming part of the Chowilla floodplain and Lindsay-Wallpolla Island The Living Murray icon site.

Traditional Owners were consulted for the development of a system of regulators and containment structures built under The Living Murray program to help protect the floodplain environment and fish habitat in the area.

Elders and community members spent two days on Country around the icon site last week in a trip facilitated by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) to look at the infrastructure and learn about the environmental impacts of the completed work.

The Living Murray Program is a joint initiative of the New South Wales, Victorian, South Australian, Australian Capital Territory and the Commonwealth governments, coordinated by the Murray Darling Basin Authority.  The visit was supported by Mallee CMA, through funding from the Australian Government's National Landcare Programme.

Mallee CMA chair Sharyon Peart said the work was undertaken to overcome the effects of regulation of the River Murray.

“Under natural conditions these beautiful waterways and wetlands would fill when there was a high river,” Ms Peart said.

“But regulation reduced the river’s influence and we needed to build structures to deliver water so the environmental and community values of the area were protected and so they could continue to play their important role as a fish feeding and breeding ground,” she said.

“The Lindsay, Mulcra and Wallpolla Island is rich in Aboriginal cultural heritage, including burial grounds and middens, so Traditional Owners were important partners in us being able to construct anything at all.”

The site is about 100kms west of Mildura and The Living Murray Indigenous Facilitator Ken Stewart said camping at the Trust for Nature’s accommodation at Ned’s Corner was the perfect base for the visit to the sites.

“We basically did a fishing trip, because it’s a great way to re-engage with culture and renew connections to country,” Mr Stewart said.

“As part of the visit we looked at the Mullaroo regulator and its fishway to see how it works and how native fish can move into important wetland and floodplain habitat,” he said.

“The monitoring programs were also explained and the ways of measuring how native fish, bird and vegetation communities are doing at the Lindsay, Mulcra and Wallpolla sites.

“Then there was the chance for some fishing and plenty of talk about traditional techniques, past customs, the sorts of fishing equipment and hunting tools that were used traditionally, which was really great.

 

“We’d love to document some of those stories and information in some way to ensure they aren’t lost for future generations.”

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