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Sunday, 15 July 2018
NAIDOC Week, talking a walk through history

Honeydew drops or lerps formed on the surface of a gum leaf

For NAIDOC Week 2018 FSC Australia took part in a guided tour through the Koorie Heritage Trust

The theme for NAIDOC week 2018 was ‘Because of her, we can!’ This year’s theme aims to recognise the significant roles that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have played– and continued to play – as leaders, trailblazers, politicians, activists and advocates for social change.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women fought and continue to fight; for justice, equality, land rights, access to education, employment, and the right to maintain and celebrate culture, language, music and art.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Australia celebrated NAIDOC week 2018 by taking part in a guided walking tour down by the Birrarung (Yarra River).

The tour is operated by the Koorie Heritage Trust who runs a number of guided walking tours from their office in Federation Square.

The tour starts in the Koorie Heritage Trust museum, which contains artifacts used by the ancestors of the Wurundjeri people in the daily lives.

Our guide, Rocky, a Taungurung man from the Gippsland region, gave us a brief history of the land on which Melbourne sits today, specifically the transformation of the Birrarung since the time of European settlement.

Melbourne grew rapidly following the discovery of gold by Europeans, but a combination of rapid growth, poor sanitation, and the placement of abattoirs upriver resulted in Melbourne gaining a reputation as “Smelbourne”, for its sanitary crisis.

Rocky explained about attempts to fix the crisis, including temporary damming of the Birrarung near Queens Bridge, which provided clean water and a source of fish for locals,until it was eventually washed away in a flood.

From the museum the tour ventured down to the river. As we walked Rocky pointed out several plants that offered bush tucker. We sampled tiny sugar drops found on gumtrees and tasted the fiddle heads of the soft tree fern - which tasted like celery!

The sugar drops are excreted onto the leaf surfaces by insects called nymphs or honeydew bugs. The drops crystallise when they come into contact with the sugars and amino acids found on the leaf, turning into a naturally sweet treat called 'lerps'.

As we walked along the river the tour stopped by several art installations telling the story of the Kulin Nation’s culture. One installation represented the five tribes that make up the Kulin Nation through five oversized shields and spears; one each for the Wathaurong, Dja Dja Wurrung, Taungurung, Woiwurrung, and Boonwurrung.

In an installation further along the river, old dead trees had been carved to resemble message sticks used by Chiefs to grant permission to traveling people to hunt and gather on their land.

We were pleased to learn the important history that played out in the centre of what we now call Melbourne.It was moving to hear the stories of the Kulin Nation, and learn how this affects the generations of Indigenous people today.

FSC Australia thanks the Koori Heritage Trust for its commitment to educating the public on the importance of the culture of the local Indigenous groups around Victoria.

You can book a guided tour through the Koorie Heritage Trust through their website.

The Koorie Heritage Trust at Federation Square takes Koorie peoples, cultures and communities from the literal and figurative fringes of Melbourne to a place that is a central meeting and gathering place for all Victorians. Our presence at Federation Square is a bold statement and significant recognition of our shared history and the importance of Koorie peoples and communities as part of a broader 21st century community.

© Forest Stewardship Council® · FSC® F000201