NRM South recently supported an Aboriginal engagement program hosted by Jason Whitehead from Highland Conservation Pty Ltd at Cockatoo Hills and the Leprena Trust, Recherche Bay. This pilot program aimed at exploring the opportunities for further aboriginal community engagement. Participants at Cockatoo Hills included students from Rosny College, in collaboration Cathy Ransom, Rosny College Aboriginal Education Worker.
The trip provided an opportunity to visit a Miena Cider Gum insurance population planted at Cockatoo Hills in a project delivered by pakana services and funded through an NRM South Naturally Inspired Grant in 2017. Miena cider gum (Eucalyptus gunnii ssp. divaricata) is an endangered species, endemic to Tasmania and found only in frost hollows in open woodland around the Great Lake region of the Central Plateau. It is a very significant Aboriginal plant – iconic in the ancient landscape. It has a very sweet sap that attracts predators and was traditionally used to create an alcoholic drink, resembling cider – thus the name. During their engagement activity, aboriginal students and the local landowners discussed natural resource management issues facing this endangered species. Some participants installed art on the grazing proof cages that were specially designed by pakana Services and installed around the insurance population trees.
A further engagement activity held at Recherche Bay, enabled some community members to visit sites of peaceful interaction between the lylueqonny and French explorers, which are only accessed easily via boat, and to interact with participants from the Leprena Trusts inaugural artist in residency at Sullivans Point.
Discussions are continuing for further community engagement, with plans being made for future trips, deepening the connections between aboriginal students and Tasmania’s unique landscape.
NRM South Naturally Inspired Grants and other opportunities are funded by the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.