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First Nations’ knowledge leading the way at Pomberuk

Ngarrindjeri communities are working with the Department for Environment and Water's SA Constraints Measures project to ensure Ngarrindjeri cultural heritage and knowledge are incorporated into designs and implementation proposals for this culturally significant site.

First Nations’ knowledge leading the way at Pomberuk
Yarluwar Ruwe (Sea Country) assessments occurring in February at Pomberuk

Pomberuk (also known as Hume Reserve) is part of the Ngarrindjeri and Others Native Title Claim (Part A) and has a deep spiritual, cultural and historical significance to the Ngarrindjeri people. The area is strongly associated with Ngurunderi (Ngarrindjeri Ancestral Being) and Pondi (Gaint Murray Cod), with the large granite boulder approximately 200 m south-east of Pomberuk believed to be a physical indication of one of Ngurunderi’s footprints. The bank at Pomberuk is also the entrance of the Rocky Gully wetlands, which supports a number of Ngarrindjeri Ngartjis (totems).

For the protection of this culturally significant site, the SA Constraints Measures project is designing bank stabilisation solutions, with construction dependant on additional funding. As Pomberuk is subject to high flows, this work will help to provide protection for areas of cultural and historical significance during the delivery of environment water.

Due to the cultural importance of the site, it is crucial that Ngarrindjeri cultural heritage, knowledge, interests and approvals are seamlessly integrated into the project's planning, designs and implementation proposals. To achieve this, a collaborative co-design working group was established, that included representatives from Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal Corporation, Ngarrindjeri Heritage Committee and Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority.

On February 5, 2023, members of the working group met with Ngarrindjeri community members, the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board and Department for Environment and Water on Ruwe (Country) at Pomberuk to undertake a Yarluwar Ruwe (Sea Country) assessment. The assessment encompassed the area between the railway precinct and the connecting Rocky Gully Wetland, located in the Northern region of Murray Bridge.

The Ngarrindjeri Yarluwar Ruwe assessment is a tool used to enable a holistic approach to Caring for Country. The assessment tool aims to understand the cultural health of an area by incorporating Ngarrindjeri knowledge and cultural values, taking into account Ngartijis, the surrounding environments and the site’s ecology, as experienced by Ngarrindjeri people.

Yarluwar Ruwe assessments play a valuable role in the SA Constraints Pomberuk project by heavily guiding the design and implementation of key activities, informing the effective management of associated risks and leveraging opportunities within the landscape.

The Yarluwar Ruwe assessment process will ensure Ngarrindjeri values, traditions and heritage are protected, enhanced and managed during current and future on-ground works at Pomberuk, and incorporated into the bank stabilisation designs. This ultimately contributes to the wellbeing of the Ngarrindjeri people and is an excellent example of project staff and First Nations people working together to re-engage with the land and move forward for cultural and ecological benefits.

“It’s fantastic to see the department, Landscape Board and Ngarrindjeri community working together on such a culturally significant place, to work towards better outcomes for all.” Said Candice Love, Senior Project Officer, Partnerships and Engagement at the Murraylands and Riverland Landscapes Board.

The assessment was jointly funded through the Department for Environment and Water’s SA Constraints Measures project and the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board.

The South Australia Constraints Measures project aims to remove barriers to the delivery of environmental water, thereby improving the health of the River Murray's floodplains and wetlands.

You can learn more about the SA Constraint Measures project at Department for Environment and Water - Constraints measures project.

The South Australia Constraints Measures project is being delivered by the Government of South Australia and funded by the Australian Government, as part of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

First Nations’ knowledge leading the way at Pomberuk
Left: Pomberuk banks. Right: the connected Rocky Gully Wetland