22,000-year-old rock art in the Garden Ranges, VIC returned to Taungurung control: NIT

Giovanni Torre – 
Read the original story HERE.

Matt Burns and Joe Morrison. Photo supplied.

On Saturday the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation and the Taungurung Land and Waters Council came together with community to celebrate the return of the Garden Range Rock Art Site, a 22,000 year-old cultural site in Victoria.

The return was a long time coming.

In 2019, Taungurung Land and Waters Council sought assistance to acquire the culturally significant 23-hectare parcel of land in Euroa, Victoria.

The ILSC granted $265,000 for the purchase of the site, as well as fencing to halt degradation by livestock, and other costs.

The land contains two rock art sites estimated to be over 22,000 years old and, as the site is particularly fragile, its exact location will remain in the trust of Taungurung Land and Waters Council.

Council chief executive Matt Burns said the return was a significant milestone.

“The acquisition of the Garden Range rock art site from the ILSC is of substantial cultural significance to the Taungurung people, exemplified by a history that dates back more than 20,000 years,” he said.

The Garden Range Rock Art Sites are a series of four rock shelters that feature paintings using natural pigments, with the largest shelter displaying some 172 motifs. The culturally significant art provides further evidence of the Taungurung People’s connection to this Country that extends thousands of years.

Acquisition of the site allows the Taungurung People to reconnect with their land after many years.

“The return of this land will enable us to care for Country using techniques passed down by our ancestors, ensuring the location is preserved and protected for all Taungurung people – present and future – to see,” said Mr Burns.

ILSC Group chief executive Joe Morrison emphasised “the inseparable connection” between the Taungurung People and their Country.

“The return of this site, and the profoundly important story within, is a reminder of the longstanding and un-broken connection between Taungurung People and their Country,” said Mr Morrison.

The Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation is a corporate Commonwealth entity established under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005 (ATSI Act) with a long-term vision for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to enjoy the rightful entitlements, opportunities, and benefits that the return of Country and its management brings.

The ILSC’s primary grant program – Our Country Our Future – provides assistance for acquiring and managing rights and interests in land, salt water and fresh water Country in order to achieve this vision.