For centuries, the Albury-Wodonga area was known as Bungambrawatha, or 'Homeland', by the Wiradjuri people who first settled here. It wasn't until 1838, when the Assistant Surveyor General decided that 'Albury' sounded more familiar to the British settlers' ears, that the name was changed. While Wodonga, meaning 'bulrushes', still retains its Indigenous name.
The Albury-Wodonga area lies on the flood plains of the Murray and Kiewa valleys. The Murray and its tributary rivers dominate the area west of Albury-Wodonga, while to the east lie the Snowy Mountains and the High Country.
As a massive water system in a huge dry land, the Murray was and remains a powerful source of life. For this reason, the Wiradjuri were frequently joined by many other hunting groups from the surrounding mountains and flatlands, who would travel hundreds of kilometres to gather here, establishing an important place for meetings - a tradition that continues to this day.
Speaking many different languages and dialects, they would perform corroboree, initiation and marriage ceremonies, share stories, exchange knowledge and skills, and hunt and eat along the banks and around the billabongs of the Murray. The AlburyCity Indigenous collection contains many traditional artefacts from the Wiradjuri region including bark paintings, weapons, stone tools and a canoe scar tree.
In 2009 the local Indigenous Elders identified the need to 'pass on' their knowledge and skills to the next generation. The North East Catchment Management Authority, through the Australian government's 'Caring for Our Country' program, initiated the Traditional Knowledge project. This project involved, among many other activities, stone tool workshops.
In total there were six workshops held in the Albury-Wodonga area, bringing together Elders from different nations to participate and share their unique traditional knowledge of stone tool making. The workshops also offered the opportunity for other Elders to come and witness the reconnection of knowledge to this area.
The need for the stone tool workshops was based on a number of factors. The project came about in response to a request from local Indigenous Elders for assistance in recording and preserving the traditional knowledge associated with stone tool technology.
The project has built on previous workshops that involved the coming together and sharing of knowledge of Traditional Owners from north-east Victoria and southern NSW. All the workshops have been well attended by the local Indigenous and non-Indigenous community, with the youth benefiting from learning from and participating in the workshops.
The Elders strongly believe that if this knowledge is not recorded and passed on to their youth, it will be lost. "We don't want these workshops to stop; we have a duty to pass our knowledge on," Wally Cooper, Bangerang Elder (2009).
The stone tool technology knowledge is unique to this region. Where possible, the stone tools exhibited are made from local materials and have been made using mostly traditional practices. Through the stone tool workshops, the Elders and the local community have produced unique stone tool artefacts that are part of the AlburyCity Indigenous Collection.