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Issue #1583      February 27, 2013

Ancient trail links coast to mountain

Many believe the Bundian Way walking track in southern NSW could become as popular as Western Australia’s Bibbulmun Track and the Northern Territory’s Larapinta Trail. “It’s an ancient track that links Bilgalera (Fisheries Beach in Twofold Bay) with Targangal (Mt Kosciuszko), connecting whaling ceremonies in spring with the gathering of Bogong moths in summer in the high country,” said Eden Local Aboriginal Land Council (ELALC) chair “BJ” Cruse.

Much work is still to be done but Mr Cruse hopes the track will be officially opened later this year. “Walking it is just magnificent,” he said. “It’s a different sort of track in that it covers lots of different wilderness country – from coastal lands, to plains, to snowfields.”

The now heritage-listed 265 kilometre Bundian Way crosses public land from Twofold Bay along the Towamba River through Delegate to the Snowy Mountains, some of it along travelling stock routes. One spur goes to Omeo and the Gippsland areas.

It was once one of a network of routes used by Aboriginal people over thousands of years between different parts of the coast, tablelands, Snowy Mountains and beyond for practical, ceremonial, trade and other reasons.

Mr Cruse said they then shared knowledge of these routes with early settlers, which enabled pastoral development of the wider region. Many of the old routes now have major roads along parts of them, but the landscape of this route remains largely unchanged.

Yuin Elder Rev Ossie Cruse said it had been named after the “Bundi” people who once lived along the route. “Some of the old people knew of it and occasionally someone would come across a site linked to it,” he said.

It took considerable research over many years by ELALC researcher John Blay to rediscover the exact route after consulting early surveyors’ notes and explorers’ diaries, interviewing Aboriginal people, and conducting a detailed survey over the entire route.

Working in close partnership with ELALC to ensure the project’s success is the Bundian Way Management Advisory Committee with representatives from National Parks and Wildlife Service, State Forests, the Catchment Management Authority, Lands Department, Eden LALC, and Bombala and Bega Valley Shire Councils. Mr Blay is chair.

The committee was recently recognised as a “heritage hero” by NSW Heritage Minister Robyn Parker in the annual NSW Heritage Volunteer Awards. The committee believes the Bundian Way will boost the region’s economy, create Aboriginal jobs and revitalise local Aboriginal culture.

The first major infrastructure project rolled out by the committee was last month’s opening of the Bundian Way Art Gallery at Delegate in association with ELALC and the Delegate Progress Association. It is the region’s only Indigenous art gallery and will also act as an information centre for the Bundian Way.

Delegate is midway between the high country and the coast and will be the hub of the Bundian Way. Two camp sites are being established along the route and ELALC’s Bilgalera and Jigamy Farm on the coast are being enhanced.

Technical information is being finalised and training of young people is underway.

Koori Mail   

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