The first of two cultural immersion sessions held in historically significant areas in South West Region have helped CFA members better connect to the country they live and work in and fight fire on.
As rain lashed the state on Wednesday 16 June, there was a break in the clouds over Tyrendarra in the far south west of Victoria. The ancient volcanic landscape of Tyrendarra was created by the eruption of Budj Bim (Mount Eccles) around 27,000 years ago. Led by local aboriginal custodian and historian Eileen Alberts, CFA members were taken on a tour of this ancient site.
Eileen walked us through Budj Bim sharing with us stories of a very ancient past about her ancestors who lived right where we stood. She was showing us stone arrangements that marked where families lived in stone huts and sharing with us how they were traditionally built and how they lived. In the channels between swamps she showed us other stone arrangements that were used for fish and eel trapping.
All along the tour Eileen shared stories of her culture's more recent past, candidly sharing the life she and her family have lived and are living on this country.
Walking on country and knowing more about traditional customs and cultural values highlights the importance and significance of the role CFA has in community to continue to learn more and protect sacred places like Budj Bim.
Participants shared some of their reflections and insights of the tour:
"The tour would not have been so interesting if it wasn't for [Eileen] the guide, having her life story told to us made the struggles they went through to adapt and survive very eye opening."
"The thought by Eileen that everyone regardless of heritage could have a feeling of place and connection with the land."
"The importance of engagement with the Traditional Owners for the brigade area, in order to gain a cultural understanding and their view of the brigade geographic area. This can then be implemented in a practical sense on the fireground."
"Developed a sense of mutual respect for the place when conducting CFA fire activities."
"Traditional Owners have a great amount of knowledge when it comes to fire management as they've done it for a long time. We would be wise to listen and learn from them."
In 2019, the Budj Bim cultural landscape was inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List, for its outstanding universal value. Learn more about the significance of this listing by visiting the Budj Bim website
CFA is currently recognising NAIDOC Week, a week-long celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, history and achievements. During NAIDOC Week, CFA will be sharing a number of stories that look at how we can better understand how Traditional Owners manage the land. Find out more about NAIDOC Week at www.naidoc.org.au
This event was coordinated by Volunteer Sustainability Team, Inclusion and Fairness, funded by Safer Together and supported by the CFA Friends of KIAP group. This event is aligned to CFA's Koori Inclusion Action Plan, which is currently under review.
- Learning amongst the lava flow
- Lava blisters (Rainbow Serpent Eggs)
- Exploring stone huts
- Eel traps
- Wooden fish trap
||Emma Taunt/ Libby Symons