Mary River history captured
A CO-OPERATIVE effort between the Mary River Catchment Co-ordinating Committee and Luke Barrowcliff's Goorie Vision under the Caring for Country banner has collated a vast array of information on the history of the Mary River catchment.
Dr Tanzi Smith and Mr Barrowcliffe co-ordinated the project which involved travelling to different locations throughout the catchment and filming, listening and interviewing residents of that area.
There were gatherings at six locations and they conducted 35 interviews.
The Mary catchment covers 9600sq km and has a population of 200,000.
The final stages resulted in the production of a double DVD set - one pre-1900 and the other modern times.
At each location, locals gathered to talk about their experiences living in the Mary catchment. Many residents were descendants of the first pioneers and settlers in the region and had stories of events and life in those times.
During these gatherings what one person would say was often the key to jogging the memory of others and topics would be covered from different perspectives.
The first DVD deals with many indigenous issues including the well know Bunya festival, but also includes early European settlement and explorers in the region.
Local indigenous residents tell of the coming of European settlers and the conflicts that caused.
Local historians speak of their field or area of expertise.
Pre-1900 was by definition second or third hand or taken from written records of the time.
The 'modern' post-1900 DVD runs through droughts, floods, railways, forestry, environment and the effect of the Mary River barrage at Tiaro.
Also given space is the Traveston Dam debacle, showing how closely the region came to ruining the river.
The recording of an oral history is analogous to the method used by the indigenous people, and as such gives a greater impact hearing it from real people.
Knowing the history of the river and some of its people is important to those of us who now live here. It gives us an understanding of the place and helps to 'fit' into the region.
After watching the DVD's or screenings held throughout the region, the conclusion had to be that there are high hopes for the future of the Mary with better patterns of agricultural sustainability becoming more widespread.
If the passion of many people interviewed is any indication, the river is in good hands.
Copies of the DVD set can be obtained from the MRCCC by phoning 5482 4766.