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Gold
Bid : 3,077.57/oz
Ask : 3,086.80/oz
Silver
Bid : 34.56/oz
Ask: 34.66/oz
Platinum
Bid: 1,368.49/oz
Ask : 1,404.07/oz
Refresh in 00:00

Gold Rush Legacy: Uncovering the Impact of the Gold in Ballarat

November 27, 2023

In a collaborative effort between Federation University, the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, and the City of Ballarat, the hidden history of the Yarrowee River in Ballarat is being unveiled. The discovery of gold in 1851 had a profound impact on the river and its surrounding areas, altering its course and leaving a lasting legacy on both the environment and the First Nations people. This project aims to shed light on the cultural significance of the Yarrowee River and the importance of understanding its history for the future of Ballarat.

The gold rush in Ballarat led to a significant diversion of waterways, including the Yarrowee River, as miners sought to uncover the precious metal. As the goldfields expanded, the river was further rediverted, resulting in a straighter path. The underground portion of the river, which flows beneath the current Bridge Mall redevelopment, holds a wealth of historical and cultural value.

Shannen Mennen, Project Officer at the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, emphasises the importance of sharing the Wadawurrung perspective on the Yarrowee River. Mennen states, “To Wadawurrung people, our waterways are seen as the veins and arteries of Wadawurrung Country. Through this project, Wadawurrung Traditional Owners sought to share a Wadawurrung perspective on the history of the Yarrowee and its current health. We aim to build an understanding within our local community of our unique local biodiversity, and how we can all care for and protect our waterways.”

Dr. David Waldron, Senior Lecturer in History at Federation University, highlights the significance of the project in understanding the health of the waterways and acknowledging the impact of colonization. He states, “It is a critical tool in town planning, development, and heritage, and, more importantly, a central narrative in understanding the health of our waterways that are the life of our communities and environment. It also reveals important realities in truth-telling the story of the impact colonisation has had on our indigenous communities and the importance of traditional knowledge surrounding land management, the environment, and deep connection to the lands and waterways.”

The Yarrowee River holds both ecological and cultural importance. The gold rush had detrimental effects on the river’s ecosystem, resulting in ecological damage and impacts on habitat and culture. Understanding the history and health of the waterways is crucial in preserving and restoring the natural environment and ensuring the cultural significance of the river is respected.

As part of the project, a digital mapping initiative has been implemented to provide a comprehensive understanding of the Yarrowee River. This mapping project serves as a valuable tool in assessing the history and health of the waterways, aiding in town planning, development, and heritage preservation. The partnership between Federation University, the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, and the City of Ballarat aims to guide the future of Ballarat by utilizing the knowledge gained from the mapping and research conducted.

Cr Des Hudson, City of Ballarat Mayor, expresses the significance of the project for the community, stating, “This will not only assist our understanding of the past and how Ballarat looks today but will also help to guide our future.”

The collaborative effort to uncover the history and impact of the Yarrowee River in Ballarat showcases the importance of truth-telling the story of colonisation, acknowledging the impact on indigenous communities, and working together to preserve and protect the environment for future generations. The Yarrowee River, once altered by the gold rush, now holds the key to understanding the past and shaping the future of Ballarat.

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