Lake Victoria is an important cultural landscape for Aboriginal people and it also plays a vital role in water management in South Australia and the Murray River.
In order to continue using the lake for water management purposes, an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit (AHIP) was required due to the indirect harm caused to Aboriginal cultural sites through regulation of lake levels and ongoing development and maintenance of infrastructure. NGH was engaged to complete a cultural heritage assessment of the area to enable the continued use as a water storage facility.
Significant heritage site
The area around Lake Victoria is rich in Aboriginal heritage sites, including burials, middens, stone artefact scatters, and hearths. The area also has great cultural significance to the Barkindji – Maraura people, who were a key participant in the assessment. Due to the vast land area, a 100% survey was not possible. Instead, NGH used a sample survey strategy that enabled a range of different environmental and topographic and geomorphic landscapes to be surveyed where infrastructure was proposed or required upgrading.
Our team utilised GIS based modelling and information on site location from previous surveys and studies to provide a comprehensive review of landscape sensitivity. This review helped to define the land management risks and priorities for conservation and other measures. NGH also conducted a review of contaminated lands, a biodiversity survey, and a geomorphological survey to inform the cultural values assessment of the area.
The largest AHIP application in NSW
The project involved consultation with the local Aboriginal community comprising members of the Barkindji and Maraura groups who participated in surveys of the landscape. NGH compiled a report that provided details of the over 1,000 sites known from the area and provided a detailed set of management recommendations, developed in consultation with the Traditional Owners and land managers, to enable the continued use of the lake as well as establishing a framework for the ongoing management of the significant cultural landscape.
The AHIP application was the largest in NSW, with over 1,000 sites part of the landscape management. Our team also provided recommendations for revamping the consultation and management bodies previously established.
Our team provided the most comprehensive GIS based data for the land managers to be able to effectively locate and manage the sites.
Respectful collaboration for heritage
The Lake Victoria project is a great example of how cultural heritage assessments can be conducted in a manner that is both thorough and respectful of the Traditional Owners and land managers. It is essential to collaborate with Aboriginal people in any project that affects their cultural heritage. By working closely with the Aboriginal community, our team provided a comprehensive report that not only enabled the continued use of the lake but also established a framework for the ongoing management of the significant cultural landscape.
Contact Matthew Barber to learn more about the significance of Aboriginal community participation in cultural values assessments for land management projects.