EEL farming across the Budj Bim lava flow system in south-west Victoria could recommence as early as 2011 with the proposed flooding of Lake Condah.
At the declaration of the 350-hectare Kurtonitj property at Homerton as an Indigenous Protected Area on November 25, Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation chairman Damein Bell said it was hoped the re-flooding of the lake would provide lessons for restoration of other “water places” like Kurtonitj.
Mr Bell is also manager of the Lake Condah Sustainable Development Project manager. He said permit requirements for flooding the lake were being finalised, with construction of a weir across Darlots Creek scheduled to start in January 2010.
“With dating of the (Budj Bim) system as 6800 years old, you are looking at probably one of the world’s first intensive farming sites.”
Darlots Creek forms the western border of Kurtonitj, which along with another IPA property further downstream at Tyrendarra, would play an important part in the return of the landscape to traditional eel farming, Mr Bell said.
“It is very important to get the water back into these stones.”
It was hoped to produce an exclusive eel product on the Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape using indigenous technology that was thousands of years old, he said.
Director for the Indigenous Protected Area Program within the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Bruce Rowe, said the declaration of the Kurtonitj property was a significant day in a partnership with government to take forward some of the long-held aspirations of traditional owners.
“This IPA becomes the 35th declared across Australia, in a program that has been running now for just on 12 years.
“This IPA together with some of the other properties that are on the Budj Bim lava flow in the middle of Australia’s first National Heritage-listed place, has incredibly strong cultural and environmental values.”
The new IPA declaration was a real credit to the vision of the traditional owners and of the Winda-Mara Aborigional Corporation’s landscape-based management approach for their country, Mr Rose said.
The Kurtonitj IPA plaque was unveiled by Gunditjmara elders Amy Saunders and Eileen Alberts, and was witnessed by delegates attending the Southern Australian Indigenous Protected Area Managers Conference.
IPA co-ordinator for the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation Thomas Day said the traditional owners had full input into the management plan for Kurtonitj and its IPA declaration was a big and positive step.
“We’re currently developing management plans for four more properties (bordering Mt Eccles National Park) and we will hopefully declare them as Indigenous Protected Areas as well.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.