Ancient ceremony makes a welcome return to Nillumbik

Published on 12 October 2017

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An ancient Aboriginal practice will make a return to Nillumbik after an almost 200 year absence.

The ceremony, known as the Murnong harvest will take place at Bunjil Reserve, Panton Hill on Sunday 29 October.

Harvesting the Murnong (Yam Daisy) was a traditional practice of the Wurundjeri people, the original custodians of the Nillumbik area.

The ceremony will involve Wurundjeri Elders and members of the Aboriginal community using traditionally crafted digging sticks to unearth the Murnong tuber, which is then roasted and eaten.

The harvesting ceremony follows an 18-month project involving Nillumbik Council and the Wurundjeri Narrap team (land management group) led by Uncle Dave Wandin, to establish an Indigenous Food, Fibre and Medicine Garden at Bunjil Reserve.

Nillumbik Shire Council Mayor Cr Peter Clarke said prior to grazing the Murnong (Yam Daisy) was a staple food plant of the Wurundjeri people.

“Nillumbik Shire Council is proud to have been able to work with the Wurundjeri people to help restore this ancient cultural practice, which has not taken place in Nillumbik for almost 200 years,” Cr Clarke said.

Sustainability and Environment portfolio Chair Cr Grant Brooker said the preparation for the Murnong Harvest was the culmination of eighteen months work to develop the Indigenous Food, Fibre and Medicine Garden.

“The Harvest is much more than a one-off event. Along the way there have been numerous working bees and cultural activities involving school groups and community members as a way of better understanding indigenous cultural and land management practices,” Cr Brooker said.

“Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Judy Nicholson shared with participants making ceremonial digging sticks and weaving with traditional materials and the recent women’s business community event was an important part of the harvest ceremony.   

“The construction of the Indigenous Food, Fibre and Medicine Garden will also provide an outstanding open air classroom that the community can use to better understand our unique Aboriginal heritage.”

The Murnong Harvest will include a ceremonial dance performed by the Djirri Djirri Wurundjeri women's group. Community members are welcome to attend.

What: Murnong Harvest

Where: Bunjil Reserve, entrance from Bishops Rd, Panton Hill. Follow signs from car park at Firefighters Memorial Park, Panton Hill (Melway 263 K9)

When: 29 October 10am – 2pm