Pyalong History

earthcore supports the local community

In support of the local Pyalong Community we bought a big shed for the primary school to say a big thanks for having all of us for our yearly festival in the region. Here is the final result…

pyalong-shed1pyalong-shed2

Pyalong History

The small township and agricultural district of Pyalong we know today is situated on the Northern Highway between the townships of Kilmore and Heathcote on the road to Bendigo. The first Europeans to settle in the area were Alexander Mollison and his brothers who took up the Pyalong station lease in 1838. The town itself was surveyed and proclaimed in 1854, and was sufficiently populated for the Post Office to open on 1 November 1858.

Topography

The steep hills which provide the backdrop to earthcore are part of the Great Dividing Range, Australia’s most substantial mountain range and the third longest land-based range in the world. This range stretches more than 3,500 kilometres (2,175 mi) from Dauan Island off the northeastern tip of Queensland, running the entire length of the eastern coastline through New South Wales, then into Victoria and turning west, before finally fading into the central plain at the Grampians in western Victoria. The width of the range varies from about 160 km (100 mi) to over 300 km (190 mi)

Traditional Owners

The traditional owners of these lands in this area were the Taungurung people. They shared a common bond in moiety affiliation with other neighbouring tribes. Their world was divided into two moieties: Waang (crow) and Bunjil (wedge tail eagle). Members of the tribe identified with one or the other of these moieties and it was that which determined the pattern for marriage between individuals, clans and tribes and transcended local allegiances by obliging clan members to find spouses from some distant clan of the opposite moiety, either within or outside their own wurrung (language group). The Taungurung people consisted of nine clans. These included the Buthera Balug, located on the Goulburn, as far down as Yea and Seymour, the Look Willam Clan roamed the area on the Campaspe River, near Kilmore and Mitchellstown, the Nattarak Balug lived on the Coliban and upper Campaspe Rivers while the Nira Balug ‘Cave People’ bordered the Great Dividing Range near Kilmore, Broadford, Pyalong and westward towards Mt Macedon. Around Yea and Alexandra, it was the people of the Warring-Illum Balug Clan (Warring being the name for the Goulburn River) and the Yarran-Illam located on the east side of the Goulburn River, below Seymour. The Yeerun-Illam-Balug inhabited the area around Benalla and the Yowung-Illam- Balug lived at Alexandra, Mansfield and the Upper Goulburn River. Sadly, descendants of only five of those clan groups still survive today.

The nomadic nature of the Taungurung people enabled them to utilise the resources available in their vast country. They had an intimate knowledge of their environment and were able to sustain the ecology of the each region and exploit the food available. The Taungurung people travelled south during the warmer months and north when the weather cooled. When the European explorers Hume & Hovell first crossed the River here in the wetlands on 4-5 December 1824 they named it Muddy Creek (later renamed the Yea River) the area was already occupied by Aboriginal people. Within 15 years of that crossing most of the land in the area had been taken up by graziers. From that time, life for the Taungurung people changed dramatically and was severely disrupted by the early establishment and expansion of European settlement. Their traditional society broke down and soon after, Aboriginal mortality rates soared as a result of introduced diseases, denial of access to traditional foods and medicines and conflict. At various times, Aboriginal settlements were established in the area by missionaries and governments at Michellstown, Acheron and Coranderrk (Healesville) however despite relative success were eventually dissolved. The Taungurung and other members of Kulin Nation were deeply impacted by the dictates of the various government assimilation policies.

Today, the descendants of the Taungurung form a strong and vibrant community. Descendants of five of the original clan groups meet regularly at Camp Jungai – an ancestral ceremonial site. Elders assist with the instruction of younger generations in culture, history, and language and furthering of their knowledge and appreciation of their heritage as the rightful custodians of the Taungurung lands in Central Victoria.

Land use and ecology

The Earthcore site is a large isolated farm holding used predominately for grazing. Like its adjoining properties, the site has a number of environmental impacts which are attributable to the blanket land use policies (the entire area is zoned for farming) and resulting large scale land clearance and deforestation which occurred as a result, over 100 years ago. This land clearance has resulted in a number of environmental impacts, including erosion, salinity, and a decline in the populations of a number of [now] threatened and endangered flora and fauna species which used to inhabit the area.

The use of part of the site to host earthcore is undertaken in a manner such that the event does not further contribute to these impacts. Earthcore operates in accordance with a sustainability policy and comprehensive environmental management plan which is continually improved each year. And we’re pleased to report that our plans have been successfully implemented over the last two festivals, with no offsite discharges, erosion, significant impacts on the amenity of the area, or the species and habitat on the site occurring as a result of the event.

However, Earthcore as a festival is not content with just ensuring that its actions and activities do not further exacerbate existing environmental issues. We want to do something about them. With this in mind, we’re pleased to announce a new initiative that is currently being developed with the landowner, our consultants, Mitchell Shire Council, and local Landcare groups.

Net Gain Planting Initiative

The term ‘net gain’ in relation to vegetation, is traditionally undertaken during site or land development proposals, and simply means developing a site such that it has a greater percentage of vegetation habitat (measured by canopy cover) than what was originally present.

Over the next five years, we propose to plant at least 100 native trees, shrubs, and ground cover species each year, in order to restore part of the site back to its original condition, before the entire area was cleared for farming.

A section of the site has been identified which is outside the festival area, on an erosion prone part of the site which is not able to be used for farming. The proposed planting area is located at the base of the large hills directly behind the patron’s gate/main entrance and this highly visible location will ensure the replanting initiative is highly visible to anyone attending the event as it continues to develops. Planting will be undertaken in July/August each year, with the support of volunteers, with all species, training, and land preparation and management costs paid for by the event. We hope that over time, this initiative will create additional ecological habitat for native flora and fauna, as well as help to reduce erosion and salinity issues associated with the site.

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