Caring for country and culture: rock-hole rehabilitation and feral goat control

Thursday, 18 June 2015
Alexandra Vickery
Clifford Woodford

The rock-hole complexes throughout the Gawler Ranges of South Australia are of cultural significance. They are associated with traditional mythology and law, and capture rainfall that historically afforded subsistence living for the Kokatha, Barngala and Wirangu peoples.

Rock-holes provide the only natural surface water throughout these arid landscapes and occur in granite outcrops which support a high level of plant and habitat diversity.

Caring for Country and Culture – Rock-hole rehabilitation and Feral Goat Control is restoring the traditional custodianship of rock-holes, a sophisticated cultural practice that prior to white settlement was an integral part of the social and cultural fabric of Aboriginal life. The resurgence of this cultural practice was identified by the native title holders as important to ensuring generational exchange of cultural knowledge.

Since 2011 the project has engaged Aboriginal youth to undertake rockhole rehabilitation, using both cultural/ traditional and Western/science methodologies. Applying an asset based approach the project identified feral goats as the primary threat, and has since implemented management through an innovative and strategic trapping regime in partnership with Thurlga Pastoral Station. Funded through the Australian Government the project continues to train and mentor Aboriginal youth, and to promote the significance of the rock-hole complexes in contemporary Aboriginal life.