‘A very special feeling’: new Namarag nature reserve in Molonglo a source of pride for the Ngunnawal people

Max O'Driscoll 6 November 2021 2
Namarag nature reserve

Namarag nature reserve in Molonglo officially opened on Wednesday, 3 November, 2021. Photo: Max O’Driscoll.

Namarag nature reserve in Molonglo, north of Denman Prospect, officially opened on Wednesday, 3 November, and the ACT Government hopes it sets a new benchmark for nature reserves in the Territory.

Mary Mudford, proud Ngunnawal woman and assistant director of traditional custodian engagement with the ACT Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate, described the opening as a source of great pride for the Ngunnawal community, having witnessed Namarag’s transformation from start to finish.

“It’s a very special feeling,” she said.

“For too long our First Nations people have been lumped together under generic terms of ‘Indigenous’ and ‘Aboriginal’, and being able to have the recognition for our individual nations is incredibly important.


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“This project demonstrates that we’re able to be recognised as the people of this country.”

Ms Mudford said the collaboration between the ACT Government and the Ngunnawal people was the first of its kind, and she is hopeful this will be continued throughout further development.

“It is absolutely critical that Ngunnawal people are engaged in the future developments of the ACT,” she said.

“We’ve been here for tens of thousands of years and it’s really important that acknowledgement of our rights as traditional custodians of this country are embraced in those projects.”

Ms Mudford said the location of Namarag nature reserve is considered a special place for the Ngunnawal people as it is where their ancestors would gather, with Molonglo River once utilised as a pathway to move throughout the landscape.

ACT Environment, Heritage and Water executive group manager Ian Walker said the Namarag project is part of the ACT Government’s extensive consultation with the Ngunnawal community.

“This is an exemplar of what we want to see happen in the future,” he said.

“The whole design was built around Ngunnawal culture, Ngunnawal community and explicitly involving Ngunnawal people.”

Mr Walker spoke of Namarag’s proximity to Denman Prospect, and walking track access points into the reserve. He suggested that not only does it strengthen the connection to Ngunnawal country, but it also improves the aesthetic appeal of the area and helps protect key environmental values.

'Wombat Burrow' at Bidjiwang Nature Play Space

The ‘Wombat Burrow’ at Bidjiwang Nature Play Space. Photo: Max O’Driscoll.

ACT Minister for Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman described Namarag as an effort to get the Ngunnawal story across to the wider community.

“It really tells a wonderful story about Ngunnawal culture,” he said.

“It’s a great opportunity, particularly for the young people in Canberra, to come along and have a look to see how Ngunnawal people used to live on the land, and also to just enjoy our fantastic open space as part of our new nature reserve for the Molonglo Valley.”

Namarag nature reserve features more than 10,000 new trees, shrubs and plants, and more than 2000 tonnes of hardwood logs from Canberra’s urban forest.

It is also home to the new Bidjiwang Nature Play Space, which is a nature-styled playground.


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2 Responses to ‘A very special feeling’: new Namarag nature reserve in Molonglo a source of pride for the Ngunnawal people
Susan Bromhead Susan Bromhead 6:33 pm 08 Nov 21

Jess Karchinsky this is the one I was trying to find today

JeeKay Dee JeeKay Dee 7:33 am 08 Nov 21

So great! We took a good long stroll around Namarag yesterday. I can't wait to see how it grows and changes over the years as the flora establishes.

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