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Lonely Planet and the empty aboriginal centre

By johnboy - 19 July 2005 12

Jacqui Burke has drawn attention to a somewhat embarrassing matter for the Government.

Lonely Planet’s Aboriginal Australia and the Torres Strait Islands guide to indigenous Australia states the following about the cultural centre at Yarramundi Reach:

‘The Ngunnawal Aboriginal land council plans to set up an Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Yarramundi Reach, on the western shore of Lake Burley Griffin, in 2001. It will focus on the culture and history of Indigenous peoples of the Canberra region.’ (1st edition, July 2001, p180)

I visited the centre recently: sadly it was cold, uninviting and apart from a few pieces of art hanging in a large room, the building is empty.

The Ngunnawal do appear to be using the space for their own purposes and Matriarch Matilda House must have given Jacqui a mauling because she’s put out a further response.

Personally I always advise people not to put too much faith in Lonely Planet as they damn near killed me with bad information on the Sino-Vietnamese border a few years ago.

What’s Your opinion?


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12 Responses to
Lonely Planet and the empty aboriginal centre
Maelinar 4:56 pm 20 Jul 05

Pretty much all the area around civic, braddon etc was where teh tribes woudl congregate annually to exchange brides, resolve differences etc.

Garema Place to a T! Only thing that’s changed is Bogon Moths have been exchanged for ecstasy. Well that and annually has been changed to every weekend.

Thumper 11:57 am 20 Jul 05

I think there is no doubt that we should have a cultural centre.

Only a few years ago some flint arrow heads turned up near the Barton Highway when they were doing some work out there.

Interesting stuff.

bonfire 11:33 am 20 Jul 05

i read a very interesting book about canberra not so long ago. Pretty much all the area around civic, braddon etc was where teh tribes woudl congregate annually to exchange brides, resolve differences etc. it said that it was not unusual for people in that area doing gardening to uncover primitive stone tools in the garden.

Apparently there was also a convict settlement in Evatt.

Maybe there is a need for an education centre after all.

Thumper 10:30 am 20 Jul 05

The building is empty due to the ineptitude of the government, and, dare I say it, infighting within the Canberra Indigenous community.

The site has been pretty much vacant for years, and apart from that, its quite out of the way.

Maelinar 10:25 am 20 Jul 05

All these sites are a wonderful example of historical locations around the ACT, but my point concerns culture and historical artefacts.

No flame intended since you know where I live Thumper, but I can’t see anybody getting out the stone cutting tools anytime soon for preservation purposes.

Perhaps this is yet another example of white colonialism impressing our cultural requirements (as in having a museum) on a race that had no requirement and no intention for one.

Perhaps it’s our own misdirected social political correctness imposing said cultural requirements on a people that don’t want it.

another reason why the building is empty.

Thumper 10:15 am 20 Jul 05

From some website…

Aboriginals were first living in the ACT around 21,000 years ago, when the last major Ice Age brought temperatures 8-10°C cooler than the region experiences today. Their presence was confirmed with the excavation of the Birrigai rock shelter, an ancient camping place that was in use until the middle of the 19th century.

The shelter, in the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, is one of the most significant Aboriginal sites in south-eastern Australia. It is accessed via the 3 km Birrigai Time Trail, marked on the left before you reach the reserve visitor centre.

The reserve itself contains several interesting sites, including another rock shelter called Hanging Rock, which is also easily accessed. Nearby Gibraltar Falls is the site of the region’s most spectacular axe-grinding grooves, on the lip of the falls.

Bogong moths played an important role in the diets of early Aboriginal people. The arrival of these winged parcels of protein and fat each spring heralded a season of corroborees and feasting on the mountain tops that form the southern spine of the Great Dividing Range.

In the Canberra region, the moths pass through from early October, on their annual migration from the inland plains of western NSW to their summer hibernation grounds in the Australian Alps.

A reliable place to find Bogong moths in summer is Namadgi National Park’s Mount Gingera, one of the best bushwalks in the Brindabella and Bimberi mountains west of Canberra. Allow a full day for this 14.5 km walk, which delivers panoramic views.

It’s a pretty drive from the centre of Canberra to the start of the walk at a locked gate at Mount Ginini, via Cotter, Brindabella and Mount Franklin Roads, including 33 km of unsealed road.

Park here and follow the fire trail past Pryors Hut, a 1950s alpine hut, and take the next track on the right for a steepish one kilometre walk to the summit through wind-stunted snow gums and granite outcrops.

Search among the boulders at the summit for dry, dark, narrow crevices protected from the wind – the moths will be so densely packed they will look like a layer of fungi. A torch will help you pick them out.

Far down in the valleys to the south is the Yankee Hat rock shelter, where each year for centuries up to 500 Aborigines at a time gathered to feast on moths and perform traditional rites. The shelter contains the region’s most accessible rock art, depicting kangaroos, dingoes and birds.

Yankee Hat is in the southern section of the park accessed via Boboyan Road and Old Boboyan Road, 32 km south of the visitor centre. The shelter is reached via a three kilometre walk.

If the prospect of a vigorous hike doesn’t appeal, there are easier options. Opposite the main entrance of Parliament House is a dot mosaic of coloured granite. The National Gallery also has a prized selection of significant art.

So there you have it.

BTW, There’s cool axe grinding grooves not far from my place down on Ginninderra Creek at Latham. They’re not easy to find but its a blast when you do find them….

Thumper 9:50 am 20 Jul 05

Canberra’s Indigenous culture is actually quite strong. In fact we even have rock art out at Yankee Hat.

There was a really good book by Josephine Flood called ‘The Moth eaters’. It examines the history and culture of the region.

Chris 9:35 am 20 Jul 05

If this Aboriginal Culture Centre is the building(s) that housed the former offices of the NMA, (before the present monstrosity was constructed) then it is extremely valuable Commonwealth Govt. real estate and I wonder under what terms and circumstances it was handed over to be an Aboriginal Culture centre – I thought that was the purpose of the NMA. (For the record, I once worked on secondment there – it was an extremely beautiful spot and I imagine priceless in real estate terms as its absolute lake water frontage.) Oh, I know I’m being extremely non-PC!

Maelinar 8:57 am 20 Jul 05

Without appearing extremely racist, just what is the culture and history of Indigenous peoples of the Canberra region ?

I thought it (as in culture and history) had only existed since LBG was a sheep paddock, hence the appropriatness of an empty room.

That’s not to say that it’s appropriate for the indigenous community to have a facility that is capable of holding artefacts and presentations of their cultural history, and the building appears to be quite a suitable receptacle for such items (by virtue of it being empty – I haven’t visited), the real issue to me is what has been hampering the government for years. Other than giving them more social welfare, just what are they doing of cultural and historical worth that is worthy of being displayed ?

empty rooms tell big stories.

johnboy 11:01 pm 19 Jul 05

you need a whole lot of other things to go wrong to get life threatening i grant you.

johnboy 11:00 pm 19 Jul 05

The bus from the nearest major town takes more like seven hours than 3.

thats at the dong dang crossing, can’t speak for the one with the rail link.

Ari 10:54 pm 19 Jul 05

I’d be keen to know what the bad info about the Sino/Vietnames border is. I’ll be crossing it in a few months.

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