Partnership paves the way for protection of Ballancar’s cultural heritage

The Queensland Murray-Darling Committee (QMDC) is working with a grazing family and Traditional Owners in South East Queensland to manage the future of numerous significant Aboriginal cultural heritage sites found on an historic property.

The property Ballancar is owned by Peter and Rochelle Jesser and was the subject of an archaeological study QMDC commissioned, identifying at least nine Aboriginal cultural heritage sites including scar trees, earth ovens, grinding stones and scatters of stone tools and flakes.

Peter and Rochelle Jesser of Ballancar with QMDC Aboriginal Programs Regional Coordinator Tim Knox

Peter and Rochelle Jesser of Ballancar with QMDC Aboriginal Programs Regional Coordinator Tim Knox

Positioned between Leyburn and Inglewood, Ballancar spans 2,300 hectares and was once a camping ground for Aboriginal people as they travelled through the region en route to important cultural gatherings and ceremonies in the Bunya Mountains.

QMDC Aboriginal Programs Team Leader Tim Knox said the Jessers approached him four years ago with photos of artefacts found on Ballancar and asked whether QMDC could help them work with the Kambuwal people to identify what they believed were important discoveries on their property.

Stone artefacts found on Ballancar

Stone artefacts found on Ballancar

Mr Knox said,

It was fantastic to have a landholder come to us with such an extensive amount of undisturbed Aboriginal cultural heritage on their property and with a desire to preserve and protect it.

1.Kambuwal Field team Tiarra Brown and Selena Griffin with Cultural Management Australia Archaeologist Rob Paton and QMDC Aboriginal Program Engagement Officer Tanya Collins on site during the assessment on Ballancar

Kambuwal Field team Tiarra Brown and Selena Griffin with Cultural Management Australia Archaeologist Rob Paton and QMDC Aboriginal Program Engagement Officer Tanya Collins on site during the assessment on Ballancar

2.Cultural Management Australia Archaeologist Rob Paton with a scar tree found on Ballancar

Cultural Management Australia Archaeologist Rob Paton with a scar tree found on Ballancar

With the archaeological survey complete, the Jessers are now working towards opening Ballancar to the community and school groups for cultural tours while continuing to manage its beef and sheep production.

Mr Jesser said,

Working with the Kambuwal people, we would like to use Ballancar to educate people about the regions’ cultural heritage as well as provide an environmental experience.

But first we need to address a number of issues including restricting stock access to certain areas, controlling the impact of pest animals, erosion and the reintroduction of a fire regime.

Mr Knox said QMDC would continue to work with the Jesser family and the Kambuwal people on Ballancars’ management options.

This is a test case for us to work together on grazing production and cultural heritage; it belongs to the Kumbuwal, it belongs to everyone, and we want to protect its values into the future.

The Ballancar Cultural Heritage survey was conducted jointly by the QMDC Aboriginal Program’s Aboriginal Rangers, the Kambuwal Traditional Owners, CHMA and Peter and Rochelle Jesser. The assessment was funded from the QMDC Aboriginal Rangers Working on Country program. The QMDC Aboriginal Rangers program is an activity of the QMDC in partnership with the Federal Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, involving Aboriginal Rangers delivering environmental outcomes as part of the Working on Country Regional program.