We are coming to the end of National Reconciliation Week, an important week in the Australian calendar created to commemorate two significant milestones in our reconciliation journey, the 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision. It is a time for all of us to learn about our shared history and culture. To think about what each of us can do to contribute to reconciliation in Australia.
Here at Tahbilk we have only just commenced our journey to better understand the first people on our land, the Taungurung people. The Taungurung Clans occupied a large part of Central Victoria and we are in the process of uncovering which of the 9 clans within the Taungurung existed on Tabilk land and surrounds.
We know if we can uncover the culture and history from the first people we will better be able to understand the landscape on which we live.
What we do know is they were amazing hunter/gatherers who had a sensitive understanding of the landscape in which they lived. They managed the natural landscape to keep it in abundance. In our region we know the Yam Daisy was a critical part of their diet as well as Bracken Fern, the Tree Fern, Kangaroo Apple and Cherry Balert. As well as utilising the waterways to harvest fresh water mussels and fish.
Unfortunately settlement destroyed much of this knowledge and culture. The most unfortunate part of this is a loss of knowledge and appreciation for a culture which has so much to offer to the Australian identity.
The name ‘tabilk-tabilk’ means place of many waterholes in the language of the Taungurung people. A word which aptly describes the landscape we still exist on. So it is only natural to partner with our local association TCAC (Taungurung Clans Aboriginal Corporation) and the descendants of the Taungurung people to uncover the Indigenous history of the Tahbilk site.
The first place we have started to help bring this history to life is within our wetlands and the native plant species which occupy the site. Through this area we have identified native plantings and their purpose to the Indigenous people (medicinal, edible, and useful). With this information we are creating, in partnership, an Indigenous walk track where you can learn about the first people’s history and heritage, the beginning of the Tahbilk story.
We are also completing a sacred sites survey on the property to ensure we are respecting the landscape in which we choose to live. Attaining this knowledge will give us all a better understanding of exactly who and what may have happened on the site pre-settlement. We are amazed of the skill and talent of the archaeologists who are helping us uncover this information so long after Indigenous existence on the site.
It is both with excitement and trepidation we start this journey but in the spirit of this year’s National Reconciliation Week topic ‘Don’t make history a mystery’ we feel the time is right to start.
Let’s not keep history a mystery anymore.
Ps. Pictured above are the scar trees we do have at the Tabilk property. There are two types of cut trees you can find marked by the Indigenous people. One is the scarred trees such as these where the trees were used to create tools for everyday life.