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Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray

12 December 2003

New Indigenous Protected Area Declared in Victoria

A unique area of Victoria was today declared an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) by Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Heritage.

Dr Stone said the Tyrendarra property, purchased by ATSIC for the Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation in 1997, contained unique remnants of Aboriginal occupation and use as well as significant natural and cultural values.

"The Tyrendarra property is situated on the landform that developed from the eruption of the Mount Eccles volcano around 27,000 years ago and the resultant lava flow is one of the longest, most spectacular in Victoria," Dr Stone said.

"When the lava flows blocked and diverted the pre-existing drainage systems it caused the formation of lakes and swamps. These wetlands were particularly species-rich and biologically productive with 105 indigenous bird species recorded, including six species that are now threatened."

Dr Stone said the wetlands are also home to the shortfin eel (Anguilla australis) which was caught throughout the year using spears, lines and nets.

"The Gunditjmara people also used the eel to their economic advantage by harvesting them using fixed weirs and net fish traps during their annual migration back to the spawning grounds in the Pacific Ocean.

"This provided a high quality source of protein and lipids that was seasonally predictable and abundant, and available throughout the year."

Dr Stone said that since the land was acquired and drained to carry out European-style grazing many years ago, much of the wetlands disappeared.

"The land is now naturally regenerating following the removal of cattle and the wetlands are gradually being reinstated with water birds and other wetland species returning."

Dr Stone said the IPA program was an important Australian Government initiative under the $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust that had already added 13.8 million hectares of unique ecosystems to the National Reserve System.

"The Australian Government is supporting indigenous landowners through the IPA program to manage their lands and protect natural and cultural features in accordance with internationally recognised guidelines for the benefit of all Australians," Dr Stone said.

"The challenge that exists for the Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation and Gunditjmara Community is to take advantage of the opportunities that this unique landscape offers in the form of cultural and tourism benefits, while at the same time restoring environmental degradation."

On-ground works following today's declaration include restoring the wetlands by reinstating traditional water management techniques, constructing walking paths to the wetlands, protecting the archaeological remains on the property and carrying out feral animal control.

Commonwealth of Australia