In a groundbreaking collaboration involving the Wiradjuri community, the NSW State government, and archaeologists, recent research has unveiled the ancient narrative of Wiradjuri carved trees (marara) and burials (dhabuganha) in Southeast Australia.
This initiative, spearheaded by Central Tablelands Local Land Services, Gaanha-bula Action Group, Orange Local Aboriginal Land Council, Yarrawula Ngullubul Men's Corporation, La Trobe University, and the University of Denver in the U.S., seamlessly merged Wiradjuri traditional cultural knowledge with cutting-edge archaeological methods such as ground-penetrating radar and 3D modeling. The objective was to illuminate the significance of these sacred sites.
Published in Australian Archaeology, the research has provided a fresh perspective on the locations of marara and dhabuganha, ensuring their sustained protection and management. Additionally, it played a crucial role in the repatriation and reburial of Ancestors who had been displaced without consent.
Today, only a few marara remain, and most dhabuganha have vanished due to erosion and modern land-use practices. By employing ground-penetrating radar at a specific site, the teams conducted non-invasive analyses to map soil changes, refining the understanding of the resting place of a prominent Wiradjuri man.
Greg Ingram, Aboriginal Communities Officer at Central Tablelands Local Land Services, expressed enthusiasm for the discovery, highlighting the significance of this Aboriginal-led science project. Wiradjuri Elder, Uncle Neil Ingram, emphasized the importance of the Wiradjuri philosophy of Yindyamarra (cultural respect) in guiding the project.
Dr. Caroline Spry, lead researcher from La Trobe University, underscored the value of incorporating traditional cultural knowledge into Western scientific research. She emphasized the enigmatic nature of Wiradjuri marara and their unique cultural significance, challenging common perceptions and urging a reconsideration of these trees through the lens of Wiradjuri perspectives.
Source: La Trobe University