Preserving Indigenous heritage on Rural Funds Group properties >

Mural of Brewarrina fish traps (Image taken by Andrew Hull)

Rural Funds Management (RFM) is playing a role in the preservation of Indigenous heritage in western NSW after the discovery of culturally significant sites on one its almond growing properties, Tocabil.

Rural Funds Group (ASX: RFF) purchased Tocabil in 2014 as a cropping and grazing property, and a year later began the development of a 600-hectare almond orchard in conjunction with Olam Orchards Australia.

RFM employees were made aware of what was believed to be two Indigenous fish traps as well as a number of scar trees on the 6,900-hectare property near Hillston.

Last month the structures were authenticated by the NSW Local Lands Services and the Aboriginal Community Advisory Group, which means the sites will now be protected under the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services Act.

“The Tocabil example demonstrates how RFM has been able to increase the value and income generated for RFF unitholders through conversion of the property to a ‘higher and better use’, while recognising the importance of preserving Indigenous heritage sites,” RFM Managing Director, David Bryant said.

RFM Farming General Manager, Harvey Gaynor, commented that RFM’s role in preserving the Indigenous sites found on Tocabil reflects a broader company ethos to protect and enhance the integrity of its assets.

“To have a site authenticated on one of our properties is very exciting and it’s extremely gratifying that we’ve been able to ensure its preservation, not just for the Indigenous community but for all Australians.”

“We know from archaeological evidence near Lake Mungo that parts of Western NSW were inhabited as far back as 40,000-50,000 years and we now have evidence of aboriginal activity on Tocabil.”

“It is very rewarding to think that through this discovery we can contribute to better understanding the relationship between Indigenous Australians and the land.”

Fish traps, which were created from a network of rock pools and weirs, rank among the oldest manmade structures on earth. The largest and best known are the Brewarrina Fish Traps (depicted in the above image), located in north western NSW.

The Tocabil sites identified by RFM included two fish traps in Willandra Creek, a tributary of the Lachlan River, as well as numerous scar trees. The latter are trees that have been ‘scarred’ by Indigenous people through the removal of bark or wood, which was then used for the construction of shelters, watercraft, containers and tools.

The sites were fenced off for protection after consultation with the NSW Local Lands Service. The fish traps have also been recorded with the Aboriginal Heritage Information System Registrar at the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.