The Gollion Ochre Quarry was declared and listed as a significant Aboriginal place over the weekend.
Just half an hour from Canberra’s CBD, the privately owned Gollion farm was formally recognised by the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage in a gathering of Ngunnawal and Ngambri Traditional Owners and owner Sam Vincent and his family.
Mr Vincent has been very open about the hesitancy some private landowners have to opening their properties to Indigenous Australians.
“We want to tell other farmers that the sky’s not going to fall if they bring Aboriginal people into their land and find artefacts … they’ve got knowledge to gain by engaging with the local Aboriginal community,” Mr Vincent said.
Mr Vincent also said he has nothing to lose by acknowledging the site, he will continue with his cattle on the farm.
Ngunnawal Elder Wally Bell spoke highly of the Vincent family, who he and other Traditional Owners have been working with for about five years to get the site listed as an Aboriginal place.
“They’re a different calibre of people – they weren’t afraid of having Aboriginal significant places on their property,” Mr Bell said.
“There’s a lot of other property owners that have been scared of the native title process.”
Mr Bell stressed it was important to maintain links to the past.
“We as Aboriginal people have a very strong connection to the land. It’s our belief that we originate from the land, we’re here for a short time, and eventually we return back to that land,” Mr Bell said.
“It’s all about connection to country.”
At the ceremony, Bald Hill on Gollion Farm was given a Ngunnawal name by Mr Bell: Derrawa Dhaura.
In Ngunnawal language, this means ‘yellow ochre.’ Mr Bell said the site has historically been used for getting ochre for cultural practices and rock art.
Mr Vincent said while this was only a small act, these are projects that hold great significance.
“In the wider context, we are never going to achieve reconciliation as a nation unless we engage in projects like this one,” Mr Vincent said.
Ngambri Elder Matilda House agreed with Mr Vincent’s sentiments.
“If we can keep doing things like that, we’ll now bring an understanding of what real reconciliation really means,” Ms House said.
Ms House also said she was eager to continue building a positive bond between the farm’s landholders and the Aboriginal community.
By Hannah Cross