Skip to content

Cultural heritage

Aboriginal natural resource values

The value Aboriginal people place on natural resources stems from the strong relationship and respect they have for the land. Once the only people occupying this continent, Aboriginal people used the natural resources according to their 'lore' to maintain systems and species. The health of the land and the maintenance of biodiversity continue to be linked to the wellbeing of Aboriginal people, both physically and spiritually.

Aboriginal nations and language groups

Aboriginal nations of the Northern Tablelands Local Land Services region include the Kamilaroi (Gomeroi), Anaiwan, Ngarabal, and Banbai. Many Aboriginal nations have used the Northern Tablelands over thousands of years and their people still live in the area today.

The Gamilaraay, Yuwalaraay and Yuwalayaay dialects are spoken by members of the Gomeroi (Kamilaroi) nation. The land of the Gomeroi nation stretches from western NSW to the border with the Banbai nation near Guyra. The Nganyaywana language is spoken by members of the Anaiwan (or Eneewin) nation whose land extends south from the border with the Banbai nation (near Guyra) towards Uralla and towards the Tingha district to the north west. Other notable languages within the area include Jukumbal, from the Bundarra area, and Ngarabal, which was spoken around the Glen Innes area, Thungutti which was spoken around Walcha, Kwiambal which was spoken around the Ashford area as well as Wahlubal dialect from the Bundjalung nation spoken around the Drake/Tabulam area.

Finding Aboriginal cultural heritage sites

Landholders need to be aware of any Aboriginal cultural heritage sites that may exist on their properties and to understand their significance. It is crucial that these sites and any associated objects are preserved in order to prevent their loss.

Some examples of Aboriginal cultural sites include:

Artefact scattersBurial sitesScarred trees Grinding groovesMission sites
Rock artCarved treesMidden sitesReserve sitesAboriginal ceremony and dreaming sites
Aboriginal resource sites Ceremonial ringsEarth moundsOchre quarriesPotential archaeological deposits
Fish trapsHabitation structuresHearthsOrganic materialStone arrangements
Modified treesWater holesStone quarriesGathering sitesAboriginal cemeteries

Identifying examples of Aboriginal cultural heritage

These last remaining relics of the region's past Aboriginal inhabitants hold important historical and cultural meaning for current and future generations of Aboriginal people. These relics and sites are also a valuable part of the shared heritage of the wider Australian community and provide evidence of activities that have taken place for thousands of years. They communicate the story of how Aboriginal people interacted with the landscape.

Non-Aboriginal cultural and natural heritage

On the Northern Tablelands there is a wide range of items of significant cultural heritage that reflect the region's history as a result of European settlement. While many of these items are located in the region's towns and villages, much valuable heritage is located in rural areas.

Trees blazed (marked) by explorers, elegant homesteads, cemeteries and unique shearing sheds are the first to spring to mind but most items are far less remarkable, including bridges and original infrastructure. Many of these items provide useful insights into the condition of the landscape and how it was managed and constitute a valuable resource that should not be lost.

In an era when rural Australia is under a great deal of social as well as economic and environmental pressure, a sense of identity is crucial to regional communities that are dealing with a globalised environment. There is also a responsibility to the wider Australian community, which in this increasingly technological age, continues to find its identity in the 'bush'.

Remarkably, our highly-urbanised country maintains its connection with its tracts of untouched forest and empty places and its pastoral vistas and rural lifestyle in almost equal measure.