Mount Moorookyle (left), Green Hill & Mount Kooroocheang (right), looking north from Kingston, with canola in foreground
‘Six Peaks Speak’: State Library Victoria Creative Fellowship: Regional, 2023
Honorary Professor Barry Golding AM
Mount Franklin (‘permanent’) Recreation Reserve, Land Manager Files
‘Six Peaks Speak’ is a research and writing project Barry Golding is undertaking as a State Library Victoria (SLV) Creative Fellow in 2023 . This SLV Fellowship was announced at an event in Melbourne on 22 November 2022. The Fellowship generously provides Barry with a shared office space within SLV in Melbourne and well as library search and financial support during 2023. This will give him time, space, advice and resources to research and write stories about six of the peaks visible from his home in southern Dja Dja Wurrung Country. The six peaks are Mounts Kooroocheang, Beckworth, Greenock, Tarrengower, Alexander / Leanganook and Franklin /Larni barramul.
More information about this and other SLV Creative Fellow projects is available at:
‘Six Peaks Speak’ seeks to give voice to changes from the perspective of six iconic peaks in southern Dja Dja Wurrung Country in central Victoria, briefly summarised in the Six Peaks Table, below. The peaks are located in a broad oval enclosing and overlooking some the richest and previously most densely populated Aboriginal grasslands in Australia.
View east from Mount Greenock, with Mount Glasgow in left foreground McCallum Creek in between; peaks on far horizon include Mounts Kooroocheang & Moorookyle; Eglinton Forest in between.
The Six Peaks
The location of the six peaks is indicated on the map accessible via the link below, with some of their key features noted in the ‘Six Peaks Speak’ Table.
Six Peaks Speak Table
|Mounts (Shire, nearby town)||Height (m)||Number of visible Peaks (Highest)||Geology||Dja Dja Wurrung|
|Alexander (Alexander, Castlemaine)||744||267 (Buller)||Granitic||Leanganook|
|Kooroocheang (Hepburn, Smeaton)||669||189 (Camels Hump)||Volcanic||Kooroocheang|
|Beckworth (Hepburn, Clunes)||629||180 (Camel’s Hump)||Granitic||??|
|Franklin (Hepburn, Franklinford)||627||173 (Camel’s Hump)||Volcanic||Larni barramul|
|Tarrangower (Alexander, Maldon)||571||193 (Camel’s Hump)||Granitic||Tarrengower|
|Greenock (Golden Plains, Talbot)||385||105 (Buangor)||Volcanic||??|
Some of the 267 Peaks within line of sight of Mount Alexander / Leanganook (744m) summit (PeakFinder App)
All peaks tower above the surrounding plains and forests, keeping watch over and bearing seldom-told witness to significant change. Barry’s research for each mountain will focus on ‘Incursions’, ‘Resistances’ and ‘ Opportunities’, combining insights from a wide range of SLV and other sources and fields (First Nations, spatial, geological, historical, ecological, artistic, environmental), aiming to throw a new light on how the peaks were shaped, and how human contact has continued to define and shape their destinies, after two centuries of mapping, exploitation, public management, visitation and use.
[ABOVE] Blue tongue Lizard (Tiliqua scincoides) on the southern flank of Mount Kooroocheang
[BELOW] Deep Lead gold mines on the northern flank of Mount Greenock
How did the ‘Six Peaks Speak’ Project originate?
Barry’s idea goes back around five years when he was researching the history of Mount Franklin, a publicly reserved volcanic cone today smothered by pine trees. He was astounded when he accessed the thick, accumulated historic file held by regional land managers about Mount Franklin in the regional State government office. Here were local people in the 1870s petitioning the government for the mountain’s natural beauty to be forever retained. Yet by 1960, the mountain slopes were so degraded due to mismanagement, bushfires, rabbits, uncontrolled grazing and timber removal, it was totally planted out to pine trees, despite local resistance. Primary evidence and stories about this and many other incursions and resistances on all six peaks will be discoverable by searching the voluminous SLV records.
Mt Kooroocheang viewed through roadside Silver Banksia on White Hills Road
What resources will be accessed?
Barry’s SLV Creative Fellowship Regional project is focused on just six peaks, his research about these mountains (presently known as Alexander, Kooroocheang, Beckworth, Franklin, Tarrangower & Greenock) is deliberately broad. So too is the anticipated range of potentially useful SLV resources. It will include accounts of these peaks from early unsettler families and ‘explorers’, Dja Dja Wurrung people, Aboriginal Protectors, early surveyors as well as from mining, quarrying, local government and forestry records, books, rare books, history and scientific journals, photographs, artworks, memoirs, diaries in research collections, maps and plans. These will be enhanced by historic government land management files and local and regional museum records held elsewhere as well as oral histories: in effect, whatever resources help the peaks tell their tales.
Lower flank of Mount Alexander / Leanganook
What will the outcomes be?
The Fellowship research and writing project will be underpinned by accesss to original and published material from within and beyond SLV collections. It make it possible for Barry to fulfil a long held twin dream. First, to provide reliable and accessible information about the potential for public lands, specifically about well-known reserves surrounding these five regionally iconic mountain peaks, to be better understood as unique ecosystems and First Nations sentinels of change, and managed more responsibly and sustainably in perpetuity. Second, to write a book about regionally iconic peaks taking proper, informed account of their many layers and communities of interest, inclusive of First Nations people’s knowledges and ongoing responsibilities to care for Country.
Mount Kooroocheang from the south; black soil in the ploughed paddock in the foreground is from an Aboriginal oven mound
Barry Golding’s Acknowledgements
I acknowledge that all six peaks, as well as where was born, live and work, are within Dja Dja Wurrung Country. I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, the Dja Dja Wurrung people including their and Elders past and present. I am grateful of the strong support for my Fellowship and my work from the relevant First Nations organisation, Djaara.
I sincerely thank State Library Victoria for the opportunity to undertake this SLV Creative Fellowship, one of just two Regional Fellowships awarded in 2023. In turn, thanks to those benefactors who contribute to support SLV’s other Creative Fellows and the SLV Fellowship program. Sincere thanks finally to others who acted as advisers, referees and on selection panels in the Fellowship application process, as well as to Bill Casey for the Six Peaks map.
About other SLV Creative Fellows in 2023
Forest Hill / Lityarang just south of my home in Kingston (not one of the Six Peaks, with a captive Emu)