May 22 – Braedon & Maureen

For our first full day in Grampians National Park, we began at the Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre. This Aboriginal Cultural Centre is wholly owned and operated by Aboriginal people from Victoria’s South-West and Wimmera regions. The Centre is committed to the preservation, conservation, and promotion of the regions unique Aboriginal culture. The building structure is an award winning design that incorporates elements of special significance to the Aboriginal of the region. The Centre has a sculptured roofline to resemble a cockatoo in flight (Brambuk Aboriginal Centre).

At the Centre, we learned more about how the Aboriginal people in Victoria are still disadvantaged from the European Australians. Unemployment rates among the Aboriginal people in Victoria are three times higher than average, Aboriginal household incomes are one third lower in Victoria than the average non-Aboriginal, and Aboriginal are 11 times more likely to be imprisoned. Going to the Brambuk Aboriginal Centre helped to give us a better understanding of the oldest living culture on earth (Brambuk Aboriginal Centre).

We also learned extensively about the many sustainable practices of the Aboriginal people in Victoria. One of the most prevalent of these practices was the use of controlled burns. These burns allowed the first nation people to herd game like kangaroo and emu for hunting purposes. However, the burns were also done for environmental reasons. The fires helped to return nutrients to the soil, and many of Australian plants rely on fires to spread their seeds. The first nation people understood this and used the fires to maintain and sustain their land. 

Controlled burns were not the only sustainable practices that the Aboriginal people partook in. While speaking to the caretaker of the cultural center I learned that first nation people often only hunted male animals to ensure that there would still be a healthy female population that would repopulate the species. A similar thing was done when creating eel traps. The traps were designed to let the smaller eels through and only catch the largest eels. This was done to help prevent overfishing of the eels and to protect the population. 

The second half of the day was divided into two separate hikes. The first of the hikes was a steep hike to Mackenzie Falls. The hike itself was only half of a kilometer long, but most of it was sets of very steep stairs. By the end of the hike many of us were out of breath and our legs were sore. However, the far more difficult hike, “Pinnacle”, was waiting for us. The 2.2 kilometer hike saw us ascend to the top of Mt. Williams a dizzying 1,168 meters high. This hike was very challenging but the view from the top was certainly worth the effort. Shout out to Braedon Halle, our incredibly fit instructor Dana Kirk, and Allie Kaminske for being the first three to reach the summit. After hiking back down the mountain, many of us chose to hike back to our lodging instead of riding the bus. This was also really fun and everyone was stoked to get so many steps in for the day. 

The photo above was taken at the top of the pinnacle hike.
Picture of the group at the base of Mackenzie Falls
Picture of our group at the summit of the hiking trail “Pinnacle”

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