Mungabareena's ancient tradition
For countless generations, Aboriginal people met under the stately red gums by the Murray River to discuss trade, organise marriages, hold initiation ceremonies, resolve disputes and strengthen ancient customs with roots deep in the past of the region’s first people.
The meeting place was – and still is – of enormous cultural and historic significance to the Wiradjuri people who invited the tribes to their special place every year.
They called their meeting point on the banks of the river, “The Place of Plenty Talk’ – or Mungabareena.
Now, Mungabareena’s importance to the its traditional owners has been officially recognised by a state law that enshrines the site as a ‘Declared Aboriginal Place’.
What this means
The declaration of an Aboriginal Place enshrines into law the recognition and protection of any site that has special significance for Aboriginal culture.
It does NOT mean that the site is reserved for Aboriginal people only. In fact, the declaration aims to conserve and improve Mungabareena as one of Albury’s most popular recreational areas for all of the community, while also advancing the recognition, protection and understanding of Aboriginal cultural values.
The benefits include:
- Ensuring Aboriginal cultural values are recognised in regulatory and planning processes
- Enhancing the local environment to encourage native vegetation and wildlife to thrive
- Protecting the site from vandalism and anti-social behaviour
- Encouraging the use of the site for traditional Aboriginal cultural practices, as well as modern community recreational uses
- Providing opportunities for the community to engage in consultation
The aim is to enshrine Mungabareena’s significance to Aboriginal people into law, while also ensuring it remains a valuable recreational and cultural asset for the entire community.
AlburyCity is now holding a ‘Have a Say’ process to ensure the community is able to contribute to the future management of the site.
What improvements might be made?
The declaration will involve the establishment of strict protocols, enforceable by law, to improve the site and reduce degradation.
Protection measures may include:
- Installation of bollards and signage to prevent 4WD access to sensitive areas
- A reduction in the number of unauthorised off-road tracks
- Pest animal management
- Enshrined protection of significant Aboriginal heritage items, such as carved trees
- Installation of interpretive signage
- The possible construction of new walking tracks
- Ongoing litter removal and deterrence of dumping
The law that declares Mungabareena an Aboriginal Place aims to ensure that Aboriginal cultural heritage is protected and regulated. Under the law, anyone caught damaging the site may be subject to prosecution and potentially significant penalties.
With input from the Aboriginal community, AlburyCity has prepared a detailed vegetation management plan for the site.
Proposed improvements include:
- Removal of willows, weeds and other non-native trees and plants
- Planting of native trees and shrubs
- Fire management through traditional Aboriginal burning
- The preservation of scar trees and other remnants of traditional Aboriginal ceremonial activity
By improved management of vegetation, the site’s environmental values will be better protected, improving bio-diversity, water quality and visual appeal.
In January 2018, advertisements in the Border Mail invited Aboriginal people to attend a 'drop in day' at the site. This event, held in February, collected important data to inform the management plans that will govern the use of the site.
As part of the continuing consultation process, the wider community will be given opportunities to have a say on how the site will be managed and improved.
Through an on-line ‘Have a Say' process, community members will be invited to help decide how and where improvements, such as the installation of bollards and the closure of 4WD tracks, will be enacted.
The aim is to ensure that the reserve is protected while ensuring the enormous significance of the site to Aboriginal people is appropriately recognised and managed.
AlburyCity urges everyone in the community to help guide the future of this important site for current and future generations.