The Ngunawal Perspective

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Connected Environments and Changing Landscapes of the ACT and Surrounding Region – Interacting with the Ngunawal Perspective

The project:
Between November 2013 and July 2014 the Molonglo Catchment Group (MCG) conducted a pilot series of ‘walk and talk’ events in collaboration with the Ngunawal Australian Aboriginal community. The events were conducted at various field locations in the ACT and surrounding region, interpreting different types of environmental connectedness and landscape change from ancient times to the present day.

This project is supported with funding made available by the ACT Government under the ACT Heritage Grants Program.

The aim:
The series of walks and talks presented appropriate aspects of the relationship of Ngunawal people to territory and country, showing how the permeability of social, cultural and ecological boundaries of changing landscapes have affected the degree and form of coherence and connectivity within and between environments such as swamplands, waterways, mountains and ranges, hills, valleys and plains, and between the landscapes typical of the tablelands, the inland and the coast.

The objective:
Four ‘walk and talk’ events were designed to demonstrate how the juxtaposition of different environments and changed landscapes influences the experience and perception of Ngunawal territory and country.

Locations of the walk and talk events:

  • Walk 1: Oaks Estate and Molonglo Gorge on the eastern border of the ACT.
  • Walk 2: Oaks Estate and Beard also on the eastern border of the ACT
  • Walk 3: Little Black Mountain and Sullivan's Creek in the heart of Canberra City.
  • Walk 4: London Bridge limestone arch formation on the Burra Creek.

The Presenter/Facilitators were:

  • Wally Bell of the Buru Ngunawal Aboriginal Council and Tyronne Bell of Thunderstone Aboriginal Cultural & Land Management Services who provided insight into Ngunawal perspectives of territory and country and how that has been affected by the social, cultural and environmental changes that have happened in the ACT region.
  • Dr Karen Williams offered insight into her work with the Ngunawal community that has caused her to rethink the concepts of territory, line, space and boundary and influenced the way she interprets landscape.
  • Dr Fiona Dyer applied a fresh water science perspective to the changes that have occurred since ancient times to create the landscape we experience and perceive in the present day.
  • Dr Ken McQueen provided an earth sciences view, providing insight into the geology and geomorphology of the of the changing landscape

The walk and talk team were ably supported with field assistance throughout the series by Vika Vysna, Jacqui Dzundza and Paul Williams.

Benefit to the heritage of the ACT:
This walk and talk series provided opportunities for members of the Buru Ngunawal Aboriginal Corporation to talk about Ngunawal cultural heritage and to show the general community how to interact with and interpret the Ngunawal cultural landscape with respect and understanding.

The Molonglo Catchment Group supported the Ngunawal community in sharing their uniquely local interpretation of the different environments and landscapes defining territory, based on a deep understanding of Ngunawal culture.

The intention of these ‘walk and talk’ events was to balance presentations made by other local groups that provide sometimes very general Indigenous perspectives built on the cultural base of people from other places.

Visit our project page on Placestories at or click on the header bar in the above.

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Last modified: 02/02/2015