Community hears about Aboriginal cultural heritage at Arapiles
Thursday 30 January, 2020
Protection of rediscovered rock art and cultural values to remain in place
Around 100 people from Natimuk and the local community attended an information session on Wednesday 29 January to learn about the rich Aboriginal cultural heritage at Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park.
Representatives from Barengi Gadjin Land Council and Parks Victoria hosted the session at Natimuk following last month’s announcement that significant Aboriginal cultural values had been rediscovered at a site called Taylors Rock (Declaration Crag).
Those in attendance joined discussions about how cultural heritage is currently managed, how cultural heritage assessments are undertaken, and plans for future surveys in the park. As with most parks and reserves in Victoria, Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park contains Aboriginal cultural places, the full extent of which is still being understood.
Attendees also heard that the current restrictions at Taylors Rock will remain in place for the foreseeable future to ensure continued protection of cultural values while a management strategy is developed in consultation with community and in partnership with Barengi Gadjin Land Council.
Earlier in the day, an information session was also held for tour operators who are licensed with Parks Victoria to undertake businesses in the state park. Taylors Rock has been a commonly used spot for rock climbers, including by people visiting the park with a tour operator.
On 3 December 2019, Parks Victoria and Barengi Gadjin Land Council, which co-manage the state park, announced that rock art sites holding dozens of painted motifs, plus artefact scatters and quarry sites had been rediscovered at Taylors Rock. The rediscoveries are enormously important to the Wotjobaluk, Jaadwa, Jadawadjali, Wergaia and Jupagulk peoples (Traditional Owners), who have occupied the lands around Mount Arapiles – known as Dyurrite – for thousands of years.
The sites have been added to the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Register, and Parks Victoria and Barengi Gadjin Land Council have a legislated responsibility to protect the area from visitor impacts. The Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 protects Aboriginal cultural heritage and significant financial penalties apply for harm caused by individuals or corporate bodies. Signage advising visitors to not enter the area has been installed.
There is otherwise no change to visitor activities in the rest of the park such as rock climbing, bushwalking, camping and cycling.
Quotes attributable to Michael Stewart, CEO–Barengi Gadjin Land Council:
“It was pleasing to have so many people share their personal and considered views, and to hear respectful conversations about the park and its Aboriginal cultural heritage.”
"As we move towards cultural heritage assessments in the park, I look forward to more of these conversations with the community.”
Quotes attributable to Jason Borg, Regional Director–Parks Victoria:
“I’d like to thank the community for coming along to hear more about the area’s rich Aboriginal cultural heritage, the need for further cultural assessments in the park, and the legislative requirement to protect special places like Taylors Rock.”
“We had a big turnout that at times exceeded the venue capacity – so I thank those who attended for their patience and we have committed to future sessions so that everyone has a chance to be heard.”
“We look forward to continuing the dialogue with the community and continuing to work with Barengi Gadjin Land Council to manage the park together in a way that celebrates its natural, cultural and recreational values.”