Six Peaks Speak 3

7 May 2023

I have made lots of positive progress since my second (late February 2023) blog: via on Country immersion, First Nations liaison, community presentations, serendipitous connections as well as at the State Library Victoria in the past two months. Exploratory writing of the first book chapters is now underway.

On Country immersion:

The enervating and challenging South Coast Track 86km backpack walk in remote Tasmania; 260km supported Great South West Walk, a remarkable immersive symphony in four parts in remote western Victoria). Importantly, these walks during March took me away from my own landscape to reflect, think and plan in other inspiring places and First Nations landscapes.

Two ‘Six Peaks Peek’, by invitation on Country walking tours with invited friends, local landholders, colleagues and other SLV Fellows to all six peaks; on 26 March, to flank of Mount Kooroocheang, and summits of Beckworth & Greenock with 16 participants; on 6 May with 17 participants to summits of Mounts Tarrengower, Alexander & Franklin, ‘bookended’ by visits to nearby Neereman & Franklinford 1840s Aboriginal Protectorate sites. Intended to field test and get feedback on interpretive themes and options.

Franklinford Protectorate Township walk with Kyneton U3A on 21 April (18 participants).

•Several exploratory field visits, including previewing sites for the Six Peaks Peek Tours and visits to 10 very recently identified oven mounds in the Mount Beckworth and Kooroocheang areas.

• CresFest interpretive walks for GDTA on Creswick Heritage Walk 1 & 2 April (total 24 participants).

First Nations liaison

Meetings with Elder, Uncle Ricky Nelson, in Castlemaine on 13 April & 4 May, also planned on Country for 9 May.

Meeting planned 10 May at SLV with Harley Dunolly Lee, Project Officer, Language Repatriation, Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation & PhD Candidate at Monash University.

On Country filming with Uncle Ricky Nelson planned for 9 May at Neereman & Franklinford, to contribute to a First Nations themed Reconciliation Week display at Daylesford Historical Society.

Community presentations

On an ‘Unsettling’ theme, to Newstead Landcare Group (150 participants, 18 April).

On a ‘Six Peaks Speak: Unsettling changes in southern Dja Dja Wurrung Country’ theme to Ballarat Bushwalking and Outdoor Club (40 participants) on 4 May.

Serendipitous connections

Castlemaine-based friend & geologist, Clive Willman after my Newstead Landcare presentation, alerted me to the availability of LIDAR (an acronym for “light detection and ranging”) imaging data for both Mount Beckworth and Mount Kooroocheang inclusive of their flanks. Clive has since, very generously, put huge time and effort into creating and sharing LIDAR files, overlain with historic map layers. With the software and LIDAR files loaded on my laptop, I am now able to ‘remove’ the vegetation cover and zoom in to search for signs of what might have happened and where.

Related to the above, Clive found an 1890s geological plan for Bullarook (inclusive of Mount Kooroocheang) made by James Stirling with 8 ‘blackfellows ovens’ marked, seven of which have likely not since been recorded. Follow up with the two current private landholders to ‘ground truth’ and formally record these oven mounds is underway.

Several recent productive meetings, conversations and field visits with Clive Willman have confirmed the likelihood of Clive assisting me further, in a currently open-ended manner.

At State Library Victoria

Second stage on site searching, including SLV Newspaper collection.

Helpful conversations with Suzie Gasper, Senior Programmer, Audience Engagement on ‘where to next’ with researching, writing and publishing and well as with possible SLV themed presentations or fields trips (my Fellowship Liaison Librarian, Sarah Ryan, Senior Librarian, Victorian and Australian Collections has been on extended leave).

Writing and editing

Working through my files, distilling and pulling together the many possible themes for each of the six peaks, on the computer screen and in words, is a very big undertaking. I have started, in between the above, to attempt to write. In the process, I find out what is missing, what is superfluous and what themes might ‘sing’ best in my book, and in what order they might be introduced to the reader.

This intensive time consuming writing and editing process will be my main focus for the next few months. I’ve summarised below how far I’ve come.

Where to beyond the fieldwork? 3,500 words. This is my attempt to sort out, in my head and in words, what it is that I am most interested in communicating in my book and how I might tell the story, ideally in a fresh, engaging, accessible and authentic way.

Chapter 2 Mount Kooroocheang, First Draft 80% complete; reorganizing and editing is underway in Draft 2; Chapter 3, Mount Beckworth, writing has commenced.