ACT Government Genealogy Project - Our Kin Our Country - August 2012 Report

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ACT Government Genealogy Project
Our Kin Our Country
August 2012 Report

 

Prepared for:
Dr Chris Bourke MLA
Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs
August 2012

According to early (European) settler accounts the Limestone Plains and woodland slopes were rich in native game: emus, kangaroos, snakes, lizards on land. Aboriginal people made toeholds in trees and climbed them to catch possums. The rivers, ponds and flood plains promoted bird life: wild turkey, emu, wood ducks, black ducks, and teal. There were numerous plants such as the yam daisy. The comb and honey of the native bees could be found in tree hollows.

In the open forests of scribbly and brittle gum, with its grassy understorey, there were wild turkey, koalas, snakes, lizards and bandicoots which would probably been caught while foraging for vegetable foods. They were easily roasted straight on the hot coals. Rich oily meat of goannas and emus and the pork-like white meat of echidnas were still eaten until the 1940s. The mountain streams were full of yellow belly, platypus, spiny crayfish, yabbies, and mountain cod.

Medium-sized lowland (aboriginal) camps occur in a lineal pattern along riverbanks of the Molonglo and Murrumbidgee Rivers, and Ginninderra and Tuggeranong Creeks.

Early ‘pioneers’ weren’t keen for their cattle to share the grasslands with native plants and animals. Vegetation was cleared, native game was culled and pastures restocked with thousands of sheep, cattle and horse. Rabbits, foxes and new breeds of dogs were introduced. Trees had been felled to clear the land for grazing and to be used as timber for fencing and building. The landscape was also affected by heavy grazing and erosion on hillsides which had lost trees.

Not only had Aboriginal people been forced from their hunting grounds, but the animals which they had relied on were also being hunted or poisoned almost to extinction. Dingoes were wiped out with Strychnine at Ginninderra station. Widespread culling of thousands of native animals in the Canberra region took place from the mid-1800s, leading to the extinction of species such as the red rock wallaby.

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