History of the Project
The Reimagining Bendigo Creek project is a result of the Dja Dja Wurrung Recognition and Settlement Agreement (the Agreement). The Agreement resulted in a compensation package that included grants of land, ILUAs, and joint management rights of certain areas. One of the manifestations of this management was the Water Sensitive Bendgio partership between the City of Greater Bendgio, the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, and other organisations. This partnership aims to support healthy and resilient waterways that will support the population of Bendigo in the future. It has resulted in a number of projects, including the Reimaginging Bendigo Creek project, the Wanyarram Dhelk project, and the creation of the Water Sensitive Bendigo Network.
The Reimagining Bendigo Creek plan makes reference to the Dhelkunya Dja Country Plan, made by the Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board which was established as a result of the Agreement. The Country Plan aspires to keep the Dja Dja Wurrung People healthy, keep their land and waters in good condition, and to provide for political empowerment. Specific goals include the restoration of country, the protection of cultural heritage and the continuation of the customs and practices of the Dja Dja Wurrung People.
The Reimagining Bendigo Creek project follows on from the Wanyarram Dhelk project which began in 2016, and also aimed to restore parts of the Bendigo Creek. A direct collaboration between the Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises and North Central Catchment Management Authority, the Wanyarram Dhelk project aimed to implement the Dhelkunya Dja Country Plan by improving the health of the Bendigo Creek through collaborative practice. The Wanyarram Dhelk project resulted in frog ponds being established along the Creek, along with weed control, revegetation, and the promotion of activities such as cultural burning.
Details of the Project
The Reimagining Bendigo Creek plan is guided by a vision, mission and principles.
The vision is an imagining of what the Creek would look like once fully restored: a healthy and bustling destination for the local community. This is reiterated by the mission of the plan, which is to get people to take action so that Bendigo Creek 'will be a healthy, connected and nurturing place'. Finally, the principles are inspired by international sustainability frameworks and are localised to include reference to the Dja Dja Wurrung People and the nature of the Creek itself.
The plan incorporates three Creek-wide strategies: Catchment, Connections and Culture. These include principles of joint management, and look to the practices of the Dja Dja Wurrung people in relation to the Creek, while also aiming to educate the wider population about its cultural importance.
The Catchment Strategy aims to improve the quality of the Creek and create flood resilience. The Connections Strategy aims to improve access to the Creek by connecting it with other public spaces with the ultimate goal of increasing Creek-based interaction within the local community. The Culture Strategy aims to empower the Dja Dja Wurrung People and illuminate different cultural connections to the waterway. It is about utilising the knowledge of the Dja Dja Wurrung People in the management of the Creek while also strengthening traditional connections. Another aspect of the Culture Strategy is the creation of a new traditional name for the Creek in the Dja Dja Wurrung language.
The plan is split into four precincts, each with its own distinct strategies and goals. The precincts are: Kangaroo Flat; Golden Square - Bendigo; White Hills; and Epsom - Huntly. The specific characteristics and features of each of the precincts is taken into account for the implementation of the plan and Creek-wide strategies.
Many elements of the project are informed by traditional practices, and the entire plan is prefaced with a recognition of the traditional custodians of the land, the Dja Dja Wurrung people. There is an action plan for the project outlining which tasks need to be completed, but no timeline as of yet.