Culture and heritage

Aboriginal heritage

Gundabooka National Park oral history project

Gundabooka National Park is around 70 km south-west of Bourke in New South Wales. The park incorporates the prominent Gunderbooka Ranges, surrounded by the lower, sweeping plains country of the Cobar Peneplain. Before becoming a national park, the land had been primarily sheep station country since the 1870's.

Gundabooka Aboriginal Management Committee

A management committee of local Aboriginal people, mainly from the Bourke and Brewarrina communities, works with the NPWS staff in managing the park. The committee is involved in general decision-making matters related to the setting up and management of the park, not only in areas of Aboriginal cultural heritage. It has been a valuable learning experience for NPWS staff to work closely with the Aboriginal community.

Gundabooka Aboriginal Oral History Project

This project began in June 1996 from a need by the NPWS to understand the significance of the area for Aboriginal people in the region. This information is vital in order for the NPWS to consider how to sensitively manage the park, and to show visitors some of the remarkable personal histories of this area.

Through the project, the NPWS has an opportunity to return relevant historical and ethnographic information that has been located in libraries, museums and research collections. Although this is not restricted information, it is often difficult for local people to travel to major research centres to carry out their own research.

The Gundabooka region has a complex Aboriginal history. It has significance for Darling River people and Cobar Peneplain people - and we suspect for people much further afield. The Gunderbooka Ranges can not be viewed in isolation, and they lie within a geographically and culturally dynamic landscape.

The post-contact history of this area has been one of systematic disruption to Aboriginal people's lives, including:

  • forcible removal from traditional lands
  • massacres
  • assimilation and institutionalisation at places like the Brewarrina Mission.

Today issues that concern the local Aboriginal communities relate to unemployment, health, racism, land rights, Aboriginal deaths in custody and self-determination. The declaration of Gundabooka National Park has meant the that local Aboriginal people can freely visit and camp on land that has been inaccessible to them for many years due to private ownership.

Page last updated: 26 February 2011