River Cottage Australia

Aboriginal Belief: Looking After the Land

Learn more about the signifiance of the Gulaga National Park near River Cottage Australia.
 
Rising gently above the River Cottage Australia property near Central Tilba NSW is Gulaga National Park – a place of extraordinary significance for the original inhabitants of the area – the Yuin people.
 
As a gesture of welcome, members of the Yuin community - including Terry Hill - offered to lead Paul and Hugh on a trek to the summit of Mt Gulaga – to learn some of their bush tucker secrets, and to tell them the Dreamtime story that’s central to the mountain.
 
For the Yuin people, Mt Gulaga (or Mt Dromedary as it was named by Captain Cook) is a sacred place. They call it the Mother Mountain, and believe the area around it – including Wallaga Lake – is their spiritual home.  
 
If you look at Mt Gulaga from a distance, you can see it resembles the shape of a pregnant woman reclining. In the Dreamtime story, Gulaga gave birth to two sons – the eldest, Barunguba, ventured to the sea. He’s now also known as Montague Island – an important site for Aboriginal people, and a place of great natural resources to this day. Gulaga’s younger son – Najanuga – was too young to go hunting in the sea. He stayed close to his mother. Today, he’s also known as Little Drom – a rocky outcrop between Mt Gulaga and the coast.
 
In 2006, Gulaga National Park was handed back to the Yuin people. This was an event of great importance because it not only gave Aboriginal people  control of that land, but it gave them a sense of cultural continuity – so the stories associated with the area could be handed down to future generations, and to all Australians.
 
The area has a rich Aboriginal history. It has many waterways with abundant sources of food and would have been an area that was well populated for many thousands of years. In the years after white settlement, the Yuin people worked in a variety of local industries – particularly fishing and whaling, and used Aboriginal culture as part of their fishing practices.  
 
Aboriginal belief is that we are put on this earth to do one thing, and that is to look after the land. If we don’t look after the land, the land won’t look after us. We are custodians of the land – whatever our background or culture - a message that resonates strongly with the ethos of River Cottage Australia.

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