A piece of land near Ginninderra Creek in Belconnen where local First Nation’s people gathered and hosted corroborees has been granted provisional heritage listing by the ACT Heritage Council.
The Ginninderra Creek Corroboree Ground Cultural Gathering Place at Rural Block 1621, Belconnen, is located on what is now rural pastureland between Ginninderra Creek and the Parkwood Egg facility, adjacent to the suburb of McGregor and near the NSW-ACT border and the Ginninderry development.
The council says the 11 ha site is associated with intangible heritage values relating to corroborees as an important aspect of ceremony, and is relevant to the history of the region and Aboriginal cultural values.
“This place, situated within a network of pathways and song-lines, was utilised by local Aboriginal people, likely in association with other Aboriginal groups visiting the region for cultural gatherings,” the council says.
Along with the nearby sites associated with the initiation of young adults, the Ginninderra Creek Corroboree Ground Cultural Gathering Place was one stage in a complex regional network of cultural places that included sites in the Brindabella Mountains, Tuggeranong, Tidbinbilla, the Bogong Peaks and Black Mountain.
The council says the site could also be of high archeological value.
It says registration means the site should be preserved as open space as close to the natural state as can be managed given the landscape changes since colonisation.
“The Ginninderra Creek Corroboree Ground Cultural Gathering Place represents an aspect of the past which contributes to the identity of the contemporary Aboriginal community in the Canberra region,” the statement of heritage significance says.
The importance of the place is also embedded within a broader cultural landscape, the statement says.
In assessing the site, the Heritage Council found that it has a strong association in the collective memory of Aboriginal people and is linked with Aboriginal people’s movements along pathways and songlines and the cultural interpretation of the landscape.
“Because corroborees were special community events, the memory of this place has endured in oral resources and collective conscious,” the council says.
“Although corroborees are no longer held at this location, the place has a strong association for the Aboriginal community in the ACT with their cultural practices that were disrupted by colonisation, thus contributing to their sense of cultural continuity and identity.”
Its location next to Ginninderra Creek and important archaeological sites nearby, and as a known hub of cultural activity, means the corroboree ground has a high potential to yield information about Aboriginal people’s cultural history in the ACT, the council says.
It says the excavation of the nearby MW5 archeological site revealed one of the highest density sites excavated to date in the ACT and some rarely observed artefact attributes.
“MW5 also had clearly defined cultural activity areas, thus demonstrating that locations along the Ginninderra Creek potentially retain some archaeological integrity,” the council says.
“It has also been noted that, in general, locations near the Ginninderra Creek are more likely to possess higher densities of artefacts and be the focus of cultural activities.”
The nomination was submitted by Kate Waters (Waters Consultancy Pty Ltd) on behalf of the Ginninderry Aboriginal Advisory Group (GAAG), which includes the ACT Registered Aboriginal Organisations (RAOs) and the NSW Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs).
The Heritage Council granted provisional registration on 12 February. The community has four weeks to comment.
Written comments can be mailed to The Secretary, ACT Heritage Council, GPO Box 158, Canberra ACT 2601, emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or made via the yoursay website.