The Dhungalla (Murray River) is central to Yorta Yorta Country, extending to Cohuna in the west, just outside Albury/Wodonga in the east to a northerly point in NSW near Finley, and reaching almost as far as of Nagambie in the south. The Yorta Yorta region includes several significant State and National Parks, major waterways, wetlands and tributaries.
Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation (YYNAC) represents Yorta Yorta Traditional Owners. YYNAC have Registered Aboriginal Party (RAP) status under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006. Prior to the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010, the state government entered into a Cooperative Management Agreement with Yorta Yorta, and within the north central region this applies to Ghow Swamp. For more details refer Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians Policy Context page.
YYNAC were engaged to inform RCS renewal. As for other Traditional Owners of the region, we have sought to reflect Yorta Yorta values and aspirations in this RCS, at a high level. For more specific information, RCS partners should engage directly with YYNAC and reference the Yorta Yorta Whole-of-Country Plan 2021-2030.
All Traditional Owners engaged for RCS renewal were asked if they would like to identify values, including places of value in the RCS. We also discussed a range of concerns and aspirations for the future. Those that were identified by YYNAC are outlined on this page. Together these have informed the development of priority directions and outcomes for all Traditional Owners, as outlined on the Traditional Owners page.
Paragraphs on this page in italics, were provided by YYNAC.
Our land, water, and resources are important to the wellbeing of Yorta Yorta people. Maintaining spiritual connection with our environment and water is central to our culture and identity.
Water is core to life for Yorta Yorta people. Protecting and managing water is a custodial and intergenerational responsibility. If the cultural and spiritual values of water are sustained by providing water that is sufficient in both quantity and quality, then many other components of our biodiversity will be healthy.
The following places within the north central region, have particular significance for Yorta Yorta people:
- Lower Yalka (Campaspe River)
- Upper Gunbower Forest and the broader Dhungalla (Murray River) corridor
- Ghow (Kow) Swamp and connection to Mt Hope Creek (Lower Bendigo Creek)
- Richardson’s Lagoon, which is significant because it includes Bayadherra (Broad Shelled Turtle) habitat, and other important biodiversity values, as well as precolonial lunettes
All of the above-listed places are identified as priority RCS assets, refer Regional Maps to view RCS assets in relation to the YYNAC RAP boundary. The full extent of Bendigo Creek up to Ghow (Kow) Swamp, was added as part of the RCS renewal process, in part, because of the cultural values for both Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung Traditional Owners.
The Bayadherra (Broad Shelled Turtle) pictured above, is a Yorta Yorta totem. Protection and enhancement of Bayadherra habitat is important because of its spiritual significance to Yorta Yorta people and also because it is an endangered species.
Protection of cultural heritage is important.
The landscape has been over-cultivated, and our native vegetation has been overgrazed.
The degradation of our land has created soil erosion, a major decline in native vegetation, invasive weeds and other atrocious plants have increased and cause extensive complications. Water is also being over-extracted from our waterways, wetlands and billabongs, and being utilized for commodities such as hydroelectric power and irrigational purposes. The quality of the water has become poor and extremely murky because of the high-volume flows and constant water extraction which has created detrimental slumping and notching of the banks.
Yorta Yorta people would like to be involved in all matters relating to their Woka (Country). Whenever an opportunity arises, Yorta Yorta would like to be advised by RCS stakeholders and provided with enough time to make a decision and respond. This is self-determined participation.
Yorta Yorta noted that self-determined and active participation in caring for Woka (Country), requires a level of economic independence. It is important to build economic independence for Yorta Yorta people, which includes providing mentoring/training/employment opportunities as well as supporting the growth of Woka Walla (YYNAC’s owned and operated NRM enterprise).
Connecting to Country, Caring for Country
Yorta Yorta people have managed and conserved their Country for thousands of years and it is not a new concept or a privilege to be managing Country; it is our responsibility. Yorta Yorta must be appropriately resourced to continue this stewardship role at all levels from research and policy development through to on-ground caring for Country roles and service delivery.
Getting Yorta Yorta people back on Woka (Country) to share knowledge and broaden their collective understanding of traditional management practices, was identified as important.
Yorta Yorta are interested in managing the whole landscape, considering for example how Walla (water) flows, or used to flow, across the landscape and intangible cultural values. Yorta Yorta are interested in opportunities to work with private landholders including farmers, to share traditional ecological knowledge and practices that restore and improve land health, e.g., reintroducing native vegetation to complement adjacent remnants and the integration of cultural burning practices, e.g., areas west of Pig Swamp.
Monitoring outcomes, species recovery, sharing knowledge
Yorta Yorta want to be actively involved in research and monitoring programs, particularly in monitoring the outcomes of culturally informed practices (e.g., burns, water deliveries) to demonstrate the benefits and educate the broader community.
Yorta Yorta want to have a greater role in species recovery. There are stories from Elders regarding species that used to be on Woka (Country), and Yorta Yorta want to see those species returned. There is also an interest in building knowledge of plants, involving ecologists, considering what was there before and what is there now.