A quick note from Jess McLean who spent last week doing fieldwork:
This photo was taken at 6.30am in Mudgee, a town that’s over the Great Dividing Range and upon the Cudgegong River. The day before I took this shot, I had sat by the river in the blazing dry summer heat and talked with Aboriginal people from the Mudgee Local Aboriginal Land Council about their connections to country, including with the Goulburn River some forty minutes drive from Mudgee.
In partnership with the Mudgee Local Aboriginal Land Council, and along with Fiona Miller, Emily O’Gorman and Laura Hammersley from Macquarie’s Department of Geography and Planning, we’re hoping to build an understanding of multiple water cultures and how Indigenous people are able to engage with water resource management in this area.
The oval that is being irrigated in this photo sits on the Cudgegong – you can see the line of Eucalypts fringing its riparian banks in the background. Between the oval and the river is a caravan park and both sit on the floodplain.
As I got closer to the river, I noticed that some people had set up two tents for camping right on its banks, clearly unimpressed with the caravan park option just twenty metres away. Further upstream there’s a new residential development underway, quite close to the river and aptly named ‘Riverside Estate’, with a few large brick dwellings already constructed, and up to twenty more planned.
Resource management pressures in the Cudgegong and Goulburn Rivers include expanding coal mining, irrigated agriculture and increasing tourism to sites like The Drip on the Goulburn River and along the Cudgegong River walk. At the same time, Aboriginal water values are not well recognised or protected in the two catchments. Currently, the Aboriginal communities in this area have been involved in planning the new National Park that incorporates The Drip and we are talking about helping them publish material that collates scientific and cultural knowledges for that area. This research relationship is in its early stages and there’s a lot for us all to learn still.
This is the Cudgegong River as you head downstream to Putta Bucca wetlands: