Indigenous culture and history shared at the Coal Mines

A key component of the Green Army programme is providing training to the participants and each programme includes cultural awareness training.

According to participants, the highlight of the program to date has been the Cultural Awareness Day presented at the Coal Mines Historic Site, run by Uncle Bill and Auntie Brenda (see photo) who travelled from Margate. They were joined by local Pydairrerme elders Auntie Leita and Judith for the Welcome to Country ceremony.

Uncle Bill guided the participants through the history of the Aboriginal people in Tasmania, showing them a range of stone tools and stones used to make tools, jewellery (including some highly intricate shell necklaces), as well as baskets and animal skins. He also demonstrated how different colours of ochre are made and used and described various customs and even found some bush tucker.

Participants sampled native cranberry (Astroloma humifusum), the seeds and the base of the leaves of sag (Lomandra longifolia) and native cherry (Exocarpus cupressiformis). They were also told how Aboriginal people would have eaten snow berry (Gaulthiera hispida), bracken fern (Pterideum esculentum) and pig face (Carpobrotus rossii) but the group didn’t try them because they either didn’t see any on the day or they required preparation.

It was a fascinating insight into pre-convict times on the peninsula, and a big thank you to the elders for joining the group and sharing their knowledge.