Dudley McArdle

Last weekend some 30 local community members enjoyed a field trip visiting several sites of historic and cultural significance for the First Nations people of the Kooroocheang area.

Barry Golding led the walk, covering a total of 6 km of easy paddock or roadside walking over a five-hour period.  His insightful, evidence-based commentary gave members of the group a wonderful insight into the history of the First Nations people in this region.

The areas visited highlighted some of the emerging findings from Barry’s research arising from his State Library of Victoria Fellowship.  The trip was organized in association with the Great Dividing Trail Association (GDTA).

The group visited a significant ceremonial site on the slopes of Mount Kooroocheang (Gurutjanga) thanks to permission and commentary from Donna Spiller.  The site had been used for many years by First Nation tribes who gathered from far and wide to participate in various significant social and cultural ceremonies.

The group went to four significant cultural sites in the surrounding area, particularly viewing a number of oven mounds, built up over many years of cooking, and still very visible.  Unfortunately, a number of these have been grazed and cultivated over and can really only be found using sophisticated satellite technology.  But the group saw a number of them which remain surprisingly intact.  They exhibited the charcoal-rich soil and burnt cooking stones deposited by years of cooking fires.

The sites are on privately owned property and the group were very grateful to the owners for their permission to visit.

On a less happy note, Barry included the grave site of John Hepburn and family.  Barry’s description of the actions of this early settler and some of his contemporaries provided a sobering insight into the tragedy of their treatment of the First Nations people of his time.

Nevertheless, the group delighted in the landscape they covered during the day made fascinating by Barry’s learned commentary.

Barry had a very busy weekend.  He currently has a State Library of Victoria Fellowship to research a book about six peaks in southern Dja Dja Wurrung Country – Mounts Kooroocheang, Beckworth, Greenock, Tarrengower, Alexander and Franklin. On the Friday evening following the walk he did a well-attended community presentation on The Six Peaks at the Daylesford Neighborhood Centre. And the following morning, he led another GDTA walk in the Mount Franklin area.

Dudley McArdle is a local resident and a member of the editorial committee of The Wombat Post.