Cultural heritage surveys at Arapiles
Wednesday 24 November, 2021
More than 150 cultural heritage surveys have been undertaken at Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park, as part of the first stage in a project to document, celebrate and protect the park’s significant Aboriginal cultural heritage.
Announced last year, an outcome of the project was to provide greater clarity for rock climbers and other park visitors. Climbing areas are often in places where cultural values are more likely to be present.
Once the surveys are finished this year, Barengi Gadjin Land Council and Parks Victoria will commence the assessment process to determine how to manage the areas into the future.
A Decision-Making Framework will guide this process to ensure a consistent and systematic approach is taken to protect cultural heritage, with consideration for activities undertaken in the park, such as rock climbing and recreation.
Due to the scale of surveyed areas and initial observations of cultural heritage, the project is expected to run until mid-2022. Until then, it is not anticipated there will be any significant changes to public access within the surveyed areas, unless an immediate risk of harm to cultural values is identified.
Signage will, however, remain in places at the locations known as Taylors Rock (Declaration Crag); Plaque Rock/Tiger Wall; Mr Chicken; Castle Crag and Pharos Boulders. These locations have previously been assessed as containing significant cultural heritage, with signage advising the public to not enter. Parks Victoria and Barengi Gadjin Land Council are continuing to determine a longer-term management response for these locations, which may result in further protection measures.
Known as ‘Dyurrite’ to Traditional Owners, Mount Arapiles and the surrounding land has been occupied by the Wotjobaluk, Jaadwa, Jadawadjali, Wergaia and Jupagulk peoples for thousands of years.
In recent years, significant cultural heritage, including a vast stone-tool quarrying and manufacturing site and dozens of rock art motifs have been rediscovered at the state park.
Quotes attributable to Tim McCartney, Acting Chief Executive Officer –BarengiGadjin Land Council:
“BGLC is pleased that the survey field work at Dyurrite is almost complete, and we look forward to assessing the outcomes so we can ensure the cultural values identified can be properly protected in balance with recreational activities such as rock climbing.”
“It is already apparent that our cultural values are far more extensive and significant than most non-Traditional Owners had originally thought, and this has vindicated both the assertions of Traditional Owner Elders and the stance of BGLC to call for greater action to protect this heritage.”
“We would like to acknowledge the efforts of Parks Victoria management and staff so far in meeting our needs to put in place interim protection measures and undertake the heritage surveys, the local community and many rock climbers who have gained a greater understanding of our perspectives and who have supported us through organisations like Gariwerd Wimmera Reconciliation Group, and most of all our Elders and Knowledge Holders who have guided us in this process.”
Quotes attributable to Jason Borg, Regional Director–Parks Victoria:
“Surveys throughout Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park (Dyurrite) confirm it’s an area rich with Aboriginal cultural values, including extensive areas of tangible heritage, like stone quarrying sites.”
“We’ll now work with Traditional Owners on what the surveys have unveiled and the appropriate management response.”
“I’d like to thank the community and park visitors for their patience during this process so far and look forward to sharing the results of the survey assessments.”