Field day highlights sand hills’ unique cultural heritage sites, flora and fauna

A wetland tour and talks by guest speakers on the unique flora, fauna and Aboriginal cultural heritage sites found across the sand hill regions either side of the River Murray were highlights of the River Murray corridor cultural ecosystems field day held at Yarrawonga Yacht Club recently.

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (CMA) Project Officer Jim Begley said about 70 people attended the event to find out more about the many activities that have been carried out across the area as part of the Sand Ridge Woodland Project.

The project is an ongoing partnership between Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation (YYNAC), Victorian and NSW government agencies and landholders who are working together to protect the region's cultural sites and remaining habitat and to revegetate sand hill areas that have been degraded over time through sand mining, clearing, grazing and pest plants and animals.

“The field day was a great opportunity to bring together the many people and groups that have been involved in this project over the years and share their experiences and knowledge,” Mr Begley said.   “During a walk to Chinaman’s Island Damien Cook gave an informative talk on the local wetland system. Back at the club rooms Chris Tzaros provided an update on the native bird surveys he has been doing with Yorta Yorta’s Woka Wolla work crew, while Doug Frood outlined how the sand hill landscape and native vegetation was formed.”

Yorta Yorta’s Wade Morgan spoke about artefacts and the significance of many of the area’s cultural heritage sites, while Denise Morgan-Bulled discussed how native grasses are used for many traditional activities, such as weaving.

The Sand Ridge Woodland – Yorta Yorta Country brochure was also launched. It features pictures of shrubs, trees, grasses, groundcovers, native animals and information on how Traditional Owners use these species.

“The brochure also features pictures and information about some of the region’s cultural heritage sites, such as scar trees, middens and burial sites,” Mr Begley said.

Goulburn Broken CMA CEO Chris Norman outlined how an additional $100,000 grant from the Australian Government’s 20 Million Trees Program would be used to build on the project’s previous works.

“This additional funding will be used to plant and direct sow 80 hectares of new sand hill vegetation,” Mr Begley said. “A lot of this work will be delivered thanks to Yorta Yorta’s Woka Walla work crew. This has proven to be a great partnership, creating jobs and building natural resource management skills as well as raising cultural awareness among the wider community.”

Through the funding landholders can access grants for fencing, revegetation, pest animal and weed control, and protection of cultural heritage sites.

“As a large portion of remnant sand ridge woodlands in the catchment are on private land, we are keen to support landholders to protect and enhance these unique ecosystems for broader environmental, cultural, social and economic benefits,” Mr Begley said.

Landholders interested in finding out more about the grants can contact Jim Begley on (03) 5764 7503 or

Note: Sand Ridge Woodland Project partners include:  Goulburn Broken and North Central CMAs, Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation, Parks Victoria, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Murray Local Land Services, Goulburn Murray Water, and Corowa Shire.