Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

1 March, 2015 – The Big Picture

About the Session:

What can you observe about the landscape around you? What of it is ‘natural’ and what is ‘cultural’? How has land use history – by both Aboriginal and European settlement – shaped the landscape we see today? What are some of the issues in confronting different interpretations of that history? What can you/we do about it now? These were some of the big picture questions which set the context for our workshop session at Coliban Park, Sutton Grange and followed on from Bill Gammage’s presentation.

Deirdre Slattery and Gerry Gill, both hailing from LaTrobe University Bendigo and with expertise in history, sociology, anthropology, were well placed to lead us – both literally and figuratively – through the landscape, providing an evocative sense of scale and history. Duncan Barber added family heritage to the story.

When Major Mitchell passed through the area in 1836 he thought it in ‘a state of nature’ – but how much of this state was a product of aboriginal management, or a combination of cultural and geological, landform and other physical factors?

The great land grab of the 1840s and subsequent settlement changed forever this part of the world. A 600 year old scar tree sits side by side with the relics of a sheep wash. Each tells a tale. A new country that rode on the sheep’s back, with considerable cost and effort, to fund and provide for the old world. We learnt about the social and cultural connections of the Kulin society and the Dja Dja Warrung of this region, the role of the Franklinford Protectorate and the shaping power of the aboriginals upon the land.

Participants were able to appreciate the challenges faced by contemporary (and historical) land managers, to farm, conserve and enhance biodiversity, and preserve cultural heritage. Thanks to our presenters and to Jess and Duncan Barber for allowing us to visit their amazing property.

Resources and Links:

To comment on the day, or the issues raised: visit the Forum Page. Read Clare Claydon’s report on the workshop here: Big Picture

Some images from the day: (Thanks to Max) Use the slider to advance the slideshow. You can also visit last year’s Big Picture workshop session.