Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba are two independent Nations with Traditional lands on both sides of the Murray River. When this RCS was being developed, there were several groups representing Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba Traditional Custodians, both separately and together.
To inform the RCS, we first approached the Barapa Barapa Wemba Wamba Native Title Working Group who advised us to engage the Barapa Barapa Wamba Wemba Water for Country Committee. The Committee includes both Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba Traditional Custodians who work in partnership on shared and contested ancestral lands. We have presented input from the Committee on this page, noting where it is specific to Barapa Barapa or Wamba Wemba. The Barapa Country Aboriginal Corporation, represent another group of Barapa Barapa Traditional Owners, who wanted to provide input to the RCS. The two contributions are presented separately under the tabs below.
As with other Traditional Owners of the region, we have sought to reflect Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba values and aspirations in this RCS, at a high level. For more specific information, RCS partners should engage directly with Barapa Barapa and/or Wamba Wemba. The input from all Traditional Owners has informed the development of priority directions and outcomes, as outlined on the Traditional Owners page.
Barapa Barapa Wamba Wemba Water for Country Committee
Regarding terminology and references:
Elsewhere in the RCS, we have used the term Traditional Owners, however Barapa Barapa Wamba Wemba Water for Country Committee members stated a preference for Traditional Custodians, explaining their role is to look after Country rather own it, so we have used that terminology here. The Barapa Barapa Healthy Country Plan 2018-2021 was developed by a group of Barapa Barapa Traditional Custodians, focusing on the Victorian part of Barapa Country. It is not a publicly available document, but Barapa Barapa members of the Water for Country Committee have given permission for us to use some excerpts from the plan here.
People and Kurrek (Country)
Traditional Custodians view people and Kurrek (Country, including lands and waterways) as interdependent entities linked through the landscape, through culture and through spiritual significance. As such there is no separation of nature and culture. The wellbeing of Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba people is directly influenced by both the health of the environment and the degree to which Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba people are actively involved in management, ownership and caring for our Kurrek.
As the Traditional Custodians, Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba people hold inherent rights in our Kurrek that were never traded, given or signed away. Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba people have continued to maintain our cultural identity and practices. We recognise our custodianship and ownership rights in Kurrek, including our unique responsibility to care for land and katen (water), the ecosystem and places of cultural significance.
Ongoing access to Kurrek and its resources is essential to allow Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba people to continue cultural practices and values, maintain connection with the land and care for Kurrek. This relationship is a unique relationship where the Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba people belong to the land, and the land exists in harmony and in pain, with Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba people. Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba people have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be utilised with regards to land and natural resource management. Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba people can also obtain valuable knowledge and skills through being proactively engaged in environmental management and conservation of our Kurrek.
Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba Countrymen and Countrywomen feel we have been entrusted with the care and protection of our sites and song lines until the time comes to pass on our responsibilities to our next generations according to our cultural lore.
Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba people acknowledge that several government and non-governmental organisations and structures exist that currently have responsibility for land and katen issues on Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba Kurrek. Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba people seek to engage with these organisations and structures to ensure that Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba peoples’ rights and interests are respected and protected.
Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba Traditional Ecological Knowledge both tangible and intangible is passed down from generation to generation and is valued highly and respected. To ensure that stories and knowledge are protected, the Barapa Wamba Water for Country Project utilises intellectual property agreements.
Barapa Barapa Wamba Wemba Water for Country Committee Vision
When asked about values, the Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba Water for Country Committee members spoke of the connection between healthy Kurrek and healthy people, and the significance of katen:
No water, no Country, no people
Healthy Country, healthy people
How to measure the pride and happiness that watering at Guttrum brought?
Key for environmental watering is the breeding seasons
Traditional customary practices come first, can’t carry them out without water.
If water’s not there, we can’t practice culture
If you want to make a comparison, water is like gold to us.
It’s not just a commodity, it’s heart and soul. I’m emotionally and spiritually linked.
People, land and water are all linked
One big story – our story.
The Barapa Barapa Healthy Country Plan includes a Yemurriki Map of water related cultural values including many important plant and animal species. These include; bats, Owlet Nightjar, Brolga, Black Swan, turtle, native fish (Murray Cod, Catfish and Yellow Belly), crayfish and yabbies, Bunyip bird (Australasian Bittern), and the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo.
Some clan totem species for Barapa Barapa people include the Owlet Nightjar and micro bats.
Some clan totem species for Wamba Wemba people include the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo and the Black Swan.
Places of cultural value
When asked if they would like to identify places of cultural value in the RCS, the Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba Water for Country Committee chose to identify several places. Some have significant cultural and/or environmental values, others need improved or continued management. Listing these places is intended to provide a focus for this RCS and does not diminish the importance of other places, nor should it limit the opportunities to work on other places. These places are not listed in any order of priority.
|Lake Boga, including Turtle Lagoon
|Lots of creation stories here, spiritually, culturally significant. Want to continue our work at Turtle Lagoon to restore/maintain, need to address issue of turtles being run over. Lake Boga has been included as an RCS priority waterway asset based on these cultural values.
|Want to understand better. Cotton weed that grows there is significant, used to be traded as fire starting material
|Lower Avoca marshes including Lake Bael Bael (Kerang Wetlands Ramsar)
|Highly significant both environmentally and culturally. Lake Bael Bael – high density of cultural heritage sites (silcrete, quartz, clay balls, scar trees, mounds, middens, burials). A cultural heritage assessment of the area or mapping is needed to record sites and protect them from the recreational users. Also bat survey/monitoring
|Lake Tutchewop (Kerang Wetlands Ramsar)
|Needs better management, the pest plant/animal work needs to be maintained. There’s also a long-term project to repair the sill, and create a pool again. Good memories here. Used to catch Yellow Belly in here, want to return this species. Control erosion around lake edges with reeds. Want to know more about salt interception and interactions, hydrology of Kerang lakes. Concern around increasing salinisation of this and other lakes.
|Lake Cullen (Kerang Wetlands Ramsar)
|Needs better management, the pest plant/animal work needs to be maintained.
|Hird and Johnson Swamps (Kerang Wetlands Ramsar)
|Reeds too thick. Driveway to Johnson needs work
|Reedy Lakes (Kerang Wetlands Ramsar)
|Cultural and broader community values too (for swimming)
|Gunbower Forest RAMSAR site and Gunbower Creek
|Very important for Barapa Barapa, culturally and environmentally significant, least disturbed. Need to reduce impacts by European Carp on Reedy Lagoon
|Very significant culturally and environmentally, some of the biggest trees. Cultural objectives developed for watering reed bed; record sites, more animal and plant survey/monitoring, burn the site before water is delivered and measure the water quality, monitor the weeds, want to be involved pest animal control
|Needs better management, the pest plant/animal work needs to be maintained.
|Concern that reeds are too thick
|Red Gum Swamp
|Want to see watering and a Cultural Heritage Management Plan developed, some tree planting
|Significant cultural values, want to access and document the in situ cultural heritage
|Culturally significant, food sources
|Little Murray River
|Culturally significant, food sources
|Needs instream habitat, re-snagging, fish hotels
|Want to work on it and rename
|Poor condition around Kerang, needs some understory including grasses, sedges, rushes etc to act as biofilters
|Runs through Tragowel Swamp which is important habitat, but water quality poor (dairy farm effluent) and choked with lignum
|Presence of mussels in dry bed – do a mussel survey in the wet and also for yabbies. Record CH sites to ACHRIS, revegetation maintenance (remove the mallow) look after the medicinal plants. Water bird survey. To be involved in the Fox program/ baiting, follow up on the tree planting to remove weeds.
|Cultural heritage values, including burials, lunettes, some public land, no chance of delivering water but could work to protect sites (e.g. by revegetating) also opportunities for cultural education (e.g. interpretive signage)
|Within Yorta Yorta RAP area however Barapa Barapa elders have connections to this place.
- Lack of access to some areas
- Can’t control (own/sell/use) our water – cultural water is environmental water and we don’t have 100% say over it
- Regulation of flood waters – water is not getting through to all the lakes, there’s not enough water, lakes should all be connected
- Need water in all the lakes, need water to practice culture.
- We shouldn’t be charged for filling lakes, there’s also a broader community benefit from filling the lakes
- Traditional Owners should have access to water and the profits from water sales
The Barapa Barapa Healthy Country Plan outlines a range of targets, challenges and issues, with goals defined for each.
|Key challenges and issues
|Barapa Barapa People
Cultural places and knowledge
Policy and regulation
Toxic black water
Lack of access to Country
Cultural mapping, Country Plans:
- Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba committee members expressed an interest in further mapping of cultural values (like the Yemurriki Map from the Barapa Barapa Healthy Country Plan) to inform planning and also education of the broader community.
- Barapa Barapa committee members would like to renew their Healthy Country Plan.
- Wamba Wemba committee members would like to develop a Healthy Country Plan.
Connection to Country:
- Connection to Country and land/water management are the highest priority
- Anything that gets the kids on to Country, educate youth for the future, future elder building.
- Access to Country to practice culture
Acknowledgement and rights
- Prior right to land and water needs to be acknowledged.
- Government authorities need to be consult us, take us seriously as Traditional Owners of land and water.
- Need to consider potential implications of Treaty in Victoria
- Traditional Owners to have more say on how water is managed
- Cultural water
- Committee members want to secure funding to continue the Water for Country Committee
- Want on Country management jobs (like water rangers) and regulatory roles too, modernising the system to save water
Barapa Country Aboriginal Corporation
We acknowledge and show respect to all Traditional Owners/Custodians of these lands. With their vibrant, rich, living culture, traditions, and resilient long history. Giving us our Strength, Courage and Pride to do what we do, for families, communities, and country.
People and Country
Barapa Barapa people are independent proud and strong in their culture and traditions. Barapa Barapa people work in partnership with surrounding traditional owner groups, sharing knowledge and delivering cultural practices on country. Barapa Country Aboriginal Corporation have built strong relationships with government, education bodies, private landowners, tourism, Landcare groups, and many other organisations and community groups. We value working together for the benefit of current and future resources and maintaining a sustainable ecological future for generations to come.
Caring for Ancestral lands, cultural sites, environment, and community
Barapa Barapa culture, knowledge and traditions provide strong connections to our lands and water. Barapa Barapa people are invested in promoting, protecting, nurturing, and restoring country, via robust land and water resource management. Our aim is to improve the health, wealth, and wellbeing of the Barapa Barapa people and country for the generations to come.
Barapa Barapa prides itself on working with government, landowners, and land users to deliver a Healthier Country, via cultural knowledge and practices in Natural Resource Management.
Barapa Barapa strives towards Self Determination, by increasing our capacity in employment, training, and education, continuing our culture, and protecting our heritage. This includes creating and securing opportunities for our community to continue cultural practices on our traditional lands. To keep improving the health and wellbeing of the Barapa Barapa traditional owners/custodians, relieving issues within our community by recognition and reconciliation, providing cultural practice, education, employment, and ability to deliver better outcomes for our people. Barapa Country Aboriginal Corporation provides opportunities for increasing cultural practices, values and connection to community and country from ancestors to elders to the next generation. This work is completed in conjunction with promoting, protecting, nurturing, and restoring our lands, creating, healthier community with knowledge and skills, increasing local, regional, state, and federal economic participation, development, awareness, and growth.
Barapa Barapa people care for community and country, lands, and waters. Barapa Barapa have had our stories passed down from ancestral times, generation to generation, which is what makes our connection to families, community, and country so significant and strong.
Our country is so rich in our family’s history from thousands of generations with so much to see, hear and feel within our diverse landscape. We work towards ensuring long term positive outcomes and accomplishments embracing culture equality by empowering our community.
Barapa Barapa Traditional Owners continue to provide consultation on cultural development, planning and delivery, with agility and positive mindsets when caring for country. As the Traditional Ecological Knowledge Holders regarding culture and sustainable management of local resources it is our imperative nature to protect and support the development and protection of these lands.
Priorities within the landscape
The priority of the Barapa Country Aboriginal Corporation is to support the self-determination of Barapa Barapa people by providing resources and knowledge for the effective management of the country and waters, culture, and heritage.
People are the value in the landscape, as they help maintain a positive ecological and environmental outcome for the land and waterways, as they support food production, management of pest weeds, animals, and diseases to protect and restore our local native flora and fauna and minimise the damages to these lands.
Caring for Country – involves all the people, lands and waters ensuring health and sustainability
Barapa Caring for Country is supported and carried out through on-ground conservation projects and activities on country, building capacity and encouraging collaborative partnerships with key stakeholders and custodians. This is also supported by protection of cultural sites, restoring cultural practices, story lines and ceremonies that come with caring for country, environment, and water.
Barapa Country Aboriginal Corporation are invested in:
- Sharing knowledge and skills in land and water management in a cultural way and while empowering our community – making it stronger and healthier, generating better opportunities and knowledge sharing for our future generation.
- Respecting and appreciating all the work over the years since colonisation, that many other Barapa Barapa Traditional Owners and Elders past and present have been doing on country, and fighting for our rights to be seen, heard, and recognised as the Custodians of this land.
- Create and secure opportunities for community to continue sharing and acknowledging cultural knowledge and practices on traditional country.
- Increase cultural practices, values and connection to country, land, and water, for all from Elders to the next generation.
- Creating a healthier community with knowledge and skills in caring for families and country to improve the health and wellbeing of the Barapa Barapa people.
- Self Determination in community care, employment, training, and education for the health and wealth of our community and future generations.
- Gaining, recording, and sharing our cultural knowledge, skills and experience and continuing our cultural heritage by caring for families, community, and country both in land and waters.
Manage and improve the overall health of our waterways and environment:
All water ways on country including: Lakes, Wetlands, Rivers, Streams, Creeks, Swamps
- Destruction of cultural sites, placers, and areas.
- Cultural site protection.
- Limited opportunities for Cultural Practice.
- Limited opportunities to engage in Cultural ecological cool burn practice, maintaining land and waters.
- Soil quality and erosion.
- Native plants loss and reduced diversity.
- Native animals, insects, fish.
- Water pollution.
- Access to water ways for recreation and cultural practices.
- Water quality.
- Water access.
- Changes and disturbances to the natural and expected water flows.
- Changes and disturbances to the waterflows in all wetland’s areas.
- Water diversions, bypass and discontinuation of water storage sites. Climate change.
Conservation and Protection Priorities
- Care and protection of cultural sites. Identification and registration of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage sites. Management and protection around site (fencing and pest control). Protection, education, and training.
- Research/Mapping sites and story lines.
- Care and protection soil quality.
- Improve water quality.
- Improve access to waterways.
- Improve access to lands around water.
- Cultural Water Flows supported through cultural knowledge and scientific evidence.
- Aboriginal waterway assessments and mapping of all waterways on country.
- Aboriginal water and land management and consultation.
- Aboriginal water and land ownership.
- Protected species of flora and fauna monitoring and conservation (and correlating opportunities for employment and training).
- Feral animal management (including exclusion fencing, baiting of rabbits and foxes, Fumigation of rabbit warrens where indicated. Assessing, monitoring, and reporting on pest animal activities, shooting, and cultural burns).
- Weed control (removal, maintenance, spraying, cutting/pasting, reporting, monitoring, and recording. GPS, mapping and revegetation programs).
- Fire management (cultural burns, training).
- Soil erosion control.
- Habitat restoration of native plants to support, animals, birds, fish, and insect populations.
|Protection and Promotion
|Reedy Lakes (Lake 3) (Ramsar Listed)
|Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeon (zombie) Fish was presumed extinct in Victoria for about 70 years.
Sighted in the Kerang Lakes (third Reedy Lake).
Education and Training
|Protect and ensure the survival and breeding of this species.
Monitoring and protecting the whole ecosystem for the survival of the fish it was found, with feeding, breeding and temperature are suitable.
Training of Traditional Owners, Barapa Barapa to maintain these lands and waterways for years to come.
|Second Reedy Lake The Ibis Rookery (Ramsar Listed)
|Home to a variety of water birds – black swan, Straw necked and white ibis, heron, and other spectacular birds such as Pelicans, Swans, Spoonbills, Egrets and Ducks.
Over population of limited bird species and reduction in diversity of species due to climate change and water leaves.
|Encourage Waterbirds and other living species. Revegetation and protection of these habitats to support these populations and encourage diversity.
Signage to provide ecological and cultural education for visitors to these lakes.
Water quality assessment and management and bird access to breeding sites.
|First Reedy (Ramsar Listed)
|Cultural sites, and associated cultural practice being lost due to limited access.
Cultural landscapes changed through farming and environmental changes.
Cultural vegetation site diversity being lost.
Limited access for community recreation, fishing, swimming, bird watching, camping, tourism.
|Protection, education, and management of vegetation to support diversity and cultural connection to lands and water.
Signage and artwork to combine the environmental and cultural significance of plant and bird species.
Cultural knowledge and practices shared and inclusion in tours of the wetlands.