Exploring Boandik Creation Stories at Mt Burr Swamp

Environmental education and biodiversity improvements are continuing at Mt Burr Swamp, thanks to the recent support of Responsible Wood. Responsible Wood oversees sustainable forest management in Australia and launched its new Small Grants Program last year to support collaborative projects that connect communities to their local certified forests.

The Mt Burr Swamp Restoration Reserve is embedded within a Responsible Wood certified forest and, with annual support also coming from OneFortyOne, we were successful in obtaining funding to continue education and biodiversity improvements over the past eight months. The project was about creating a walking trail linked to Boandik culture, Indigenous use plants, and bushfoods while depicting Creation stories and involving Indigenous and non-Indigenous community.

The project commenced in November 2020 and was recently completed. The aims of the project were to:

  • facilitate a Cultural camp experience for year 7 students lead by local First Nations Elders and/or experts;
  • create carvings to display Boandik Creation stories;
  • coordinate contractors to make improvements to the education facility increasing suitability for holding education activities;
  • grow and plant Indigenous use and bushfoods along a trail weaving around the creation stories carvings;
  • encourage Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members to be involved during the camps experiences, trail development and planting; and
  • paint stepping stones with local flora and fauna and/or interpretation of Culture by students to line the trail.

Numerous participants attended working bees, a 3 day cultural camp, day excursions, and planting days from November 2020 to June 2021.

The Cultural camp, held in late November, saw 90 year 7 students (45 boys and 45 girls) from Tenison Woods College come out of the classroom to set up tents, throw boomerangs, listen to campfire stories, learn basket weaving, paint stepping stones of significant plants and animals, and learn about local biodiversity – with activities led by experts in their fields.

Uncle Eddie assisted Bryan with the biodiversity session at Mt Burr Swamp (Photo courtesy of Tenison Woods College)
Story telling and campfire show and tell (with tents in the background)
15 carvings depicting Boandik Creation stories carved into the trunks of trees left behind from an ex-pine plantation – artist Matthew Brookes (local Boandik descendant)
Year 8 students planting along the trail (Photo courtesy of Tenison Woods College)
Some of the amazing artistic creations by the Year 8 students on the stepping stones from the winter excursion; each stepping stones was then placed into the trail with bushfoods and Indigenous use plants in background
Bryan with Boandik descendants Sarah Wilson and Matthew Brookes after laying stepping stones painted during the 3 day camp by Year 7 students from Tenison Woods College

Click on the following links to see more great photos from the 3 day summer camp and winter day excursion as provided by Tenison Woods College.

Renovations to the on-site education centre (aka former shearing shed!) have been supported through an annual grant from OneFortyOne and a solar grant providing repairs to the leaking roof, power and now lighting in the shed, new flooring which replaced the old sheep grate timber – so the facility can now comfortably accommodate up to 100 people indoors with power and good phone coverage.

The grated flooring was removed over the course of several working bees. A big thankyou to our volunteers. The grated flooring was then replaced with boards by local carpenters Chris and William
Matthew Brookes addressing the students during the winter excursion – notice the new flooring!

Future camps will further develop displays highlighting the restoration site, First Nations peoples’ values, and significant flora and fauna.

NGT would like to thank our First Nations people who participated in the project especially the Brookes family for their energy, enthusiasm and ideas around this project, the carvings which tell some important stories and developing the annual camp program; and OneFortyOne for support with education centre improvements, the removal of the ex-pine plantation area (earlier in 2020) which we then developed into the walk area for this project, and for the donation of OFO staff time to participate in our winter working bee.

A huge thankyou to:

  • Tenison Woods College (especially David Mezinec, Chris Lloyd and Nick Patzel) for their education and on-ground support towards this project and for arranging assistance to undertake the planting of the Indigenous use and bushfoods along the walk at short notice.
  • Our amazing NGT nursery volunteers for your weekly assistance to Ryan to prepare our plants for the planting day.
  • Responsible Wood for encouraging and accepting the project into their funding program – thank you Megan and Jason.

Bryan Haywood