Breathing life in to a cultural treasure ‘MAWONGA’
‘MAWONGA’ is a sprawling 22,350 hectare property to the north of Hillston, New South Wales. It is located on traditional country of the Ngiyampaa people and holds enormous cultural significance.
Winangakirri Aboriginal Corporation (WAC) acquired it in late 2011 with the aim of restoring the property to its original habitat, so it can be declared an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) for future generations. It is hoped Mawonga will be an example of best practice rural property management that can be adopted by Aboriginal owned properties across Australia.
Mawonga will be a hub for hosting training and cultural camps for both the Ngiyampaa people and other Aboriginal groups. Eventually it will host cultural awareness training for non-Aboriginal Australians too.
The first step towards realising this dream was to establish the necessary environmentally sustainable infrastructure on the property.
Homestead and Shearer’s quarters upgrade
WAC approached ICV for help early last year. ICV volunteer and qualified electrician Carlos undertook a complete assessment of the homestead and its existing solar power system. Carlos went on to design and install a new solar power system for the shearer’s quarters with help from WAC members, delivering environmentally friendly accommodation, a kitchen and amenities.
Water for Life project
One of the major concerns for the property in the summer months is the threat of bush fire. No permanent water exists on Mawonga, so the final piece of the puzzle was to provide a constant and reliable water supply for fire management, native animals and revegetation.
ICV volunteer Alexander, qualified in Agricultural Management, assessed and guided the completed refurbishment of the Kabina mill which, now operational, fills a 22,000 litre tank for fire management purposes.
Imparting new skills
Imparting new skills and knowledge was a secondary but equally important objective of the Mawonga project. The Winangakirri Aboriginal Corporation members who worked with Carlos and Alex learned the importance of environmentally sustainable power generation and resource management. They learned skills in rewiring, bore assessment and restoration, and how to maintain the infrastructure. These skills will be shared with younger generations to ensure the property thrives for many future generations.
"The solar power and bore refurbishment would not have been possible without the support from ICV. Words really can't describe the gratitude and sincere thanks to volunteers Alexander and Carlos whose composure, patience, expertise and good humour made tough work seem easier. I have the greatest admiration for ICV and hope to work with the organisation and volunteers on more projects."
Steve Meredith, Secretary Mawonga Management Committee