‘The Forgotten Fishponds on the Plains’

The 1840-41 Loddon River Aboriginal Protectorate site, Neereman

Great Dividing Trail Association Walk, Sunday 3 July 2022

coinciding with NAIDOC Week 2022

9.30am-12 midday, 4km, Easy

Barry Golding b.golding@federation.edu.au 0427216337

This short, easy (4 km) interpretive stroll led by Barry Golding along the north bank of the Loddon River at Neereman explores the site of the earliest Aboriginal Protectorate that lasted less than a year in 1840-41. While exploring this incredibly picturesque section of the Loddon, you will learn more about how and why this site was chosen, what happened here on the then violent frontier in the heart of Dja Dja Wurrung Country, why it was abandoned so swiftly and relocated to the foot of Mount Franklin (Larni barramul). Very few people have previously visited this remarkable historic site. This July GDTA interpretive walk has been organised with generous private landholder permission as a one-off opportunity.

One of many highlights include the beauty of the deep, long and wide pools on the Loddon, the former habitat of huge Murray Cod and Macquarie Perch that John Hepburn called the ‘fishponds on the plains’ in 1840. Other highlights include the remnant riverine vegetation featuring ancient River Red Gums (including a huge one that has been strap-grafted, and another likely used as a birthing tree), as well as remnant Buloke trees clinging to the incredibly high sandy banks where the former Protectorate cultivation paddock was briefly located. Being able to stand on this river bank, reflect on what happened here 180 years ago, and ask why this remarkable site has remained unknown and almost forgotten is a highlight in itself.

Practical Information for Registrants

Registration is essential via the following link gdt.org.au/jul-walk-rego and numbers are limited. A $10 per person fee payable for all walkers on the day (in cash) enables the inclusion of a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony by Dja Dja Wurrung Elder, Uncle Ricky Nelson. Non-GDTA members who walk will need to bring an additional $5 cash on the day in order to be covered as visitors for GDTA insurance purposes. Registrants will be informed of the exact starting point and meeting time in Baringhup by email a few days beforehand. Walkers will need to dress for the predicted weather on the day, anticipate mud underfoot in some places and bring water and morning tea. A car drop will be organised on the way to the starting point in order to bring walkers back to the start. Registrants with active COVID or flu symptoms should not participate on the day. [The walk location is approx. 8 km north of Baringhup, 30 km (1/2 hour drive) from Castlemaine, 60 km (45 minutes) from Daylesford and 90 km (1 hour+) from Ballarat. The closest public toilets and shop are at Baringhup.]

Additional Information about the Loddon Aboriginal Protectorate at Neereman from: