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Deep ancestral knowledge to infuse Imperial Lakes as project gathers pace

By Sally Heathcote

Landcare Broken Hill held its regular last-Thursday-of-the-month public meeting on Thursday night at which Simon Molesworth gave an update on the progress of the group’s Imperial Lakes project and guest speaker Narelle Osbourne outlined the ways in which the project is seeking to bring deep ancestral knowledge into every facet of the project’s design and construction.

Narelle is a proud Barkindji woman and Director of Nara Nation, with a background as a building designer and is highly skilled in the construction industry.

She has partnered with Derek Hardman, Leroy Johnson and Warlpa Thompson to create a new partnership working with Kurli Aboriginal Corporation as a vehicle to bring the ancestral knowledge of the Barkindji people and to foster respect and understanding of traditional Aboriginal culture to Landcare’s Imperial Lakes Nature Park Project.

Narelle is clearly very passionate and excited to work alongside Landcare Broken Hill on Imperial Lakes and it is a top priority for Kurli Aboriginal Corporation to care for Country and to share traditional ecological knowledge as well as providing employment opportunities and education.

Ms Osbourne described it on Thursday night as a matter of “doing the right thing” and whilst the conversation in the room indicated that full consultation has not yet been achieved, her passion combined with that of Simon and the rest of the Landcare membership looks set to that being achieved.

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Simon Molesworth announced that the first major milestone of transferring the freehold land into private ownership will be achieved by October.

In response to a very engaged audience, he then gave an outline of the project, explaining the ways in which it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create an environmental and recreational asset for current and future generations of residents and visitors to Broken Hill.

Details of the plan include water and land-based activities with a small environmental footprint, so including paddling, swimming, rowing, small craft sailing and bushwalking.

Noisy engines which disturb the peaceful environment for users and more importantly fauna, will not be allowed.

In time even the park’s maintenance vehicles will be quiet electric vehicles.

An all abilities walking trail will weave itself around the park, created to showcase the widest variety of plants possible with a particular focus on the uniqueness of the NSW Far West.

Other dedicated areas of the park will showcase plants of traditional importance to the Aboriginal community, including bush tucker and bush medicine plants, together with plants important for art and craft.

In collaboration with Wilyakali Traditional Owner groups, all park signage identifying the plants and their points of interest, including animals, will provide the Aboriginal name, in addition to the scientific and common names and this will be available on an app.

A café and other retail will provide appropriate refreshments and employment opportunities in hospitality.

The vision for the park also includes formal training opportunities at all levels from kindergarten to TAF, plus correctional services and arts organisations such as West Darling Arts.

In all there are 56 partner organisations collaborating on the project.

Simon reiterated Landcare’s welcome to new members and for any other interested parties wanting to join these public meetings held on the last Thursday of the month at the Centre for Community, 200 Beryl St, from 7.30pm.

In August the guest speaker will be from Cobalt Blue to discuss the international opportunities for Broken Hill as a supplier of cobalt, given the unstable geo-political situation of the current major producers: the Peoples’ Democratic Republic of Congo and Russia.

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