8 Nov 2022
The Ross Trust is supporting a unique project that aims to improve the understanding of ‘gnammas’, which
have been water sources and sometimes sacred features for Aboriginal people for more than 60,000 years.
The pilot project, run by The Gulbali Institute at Charles Sturt University, will document the biodiversity and
cultural significance of rock holes in north-eastern Victoria. The data will enable the Duduroa Dhargal
Aboriginal Corporation (DDAC) in Wodonga to increase the ability of Traditional Owners to manage the
Principal investigator Dr Damian Michael said the project will address a large knowledge gap in the
understanding of gnammas.
“Researchers will engage and train members of the DDAC in assessing and surveying rock holes through
field days and tutorials that can be archived and shared with future generations and the wider community,”
Dr Michael says.
Richard Tiernan, Secretary for the DDAC says the project, to be conducted between spring 2022 and
autumn 2023, is an especially important step for younger Indigneous locals.
“We see it as the beginning of longer-term relationships with a higher education provider, with goals of
empowering younger generations to pursue degrees and higher education in the field of natural resource
managment and STEM,” he says.
The project is also an important step in addressing the increasing problem of recreational practices such as
“In areas where rock holes are common, the capping rocks which were once used to cover the holes are
often moved and rearranged for the ‘perfect photo-friendly’ stack to post on social media,” Dr Michael
says. “We need to make visitors aware of the ecological and cultural impacts of this trend.”
While several researchers from other universities have examined the flora and fauna of rock holes in other
parts of Australia, the biodiversity of rock holes in North-East Victoria has not previously been documented.
The Ross Trust CEO Sarah Hardy says the Trust was pleased to be providing a $40,000 grant to the proejct.
“Projects such as this provide access to experts in the industry and can empower Traditional Owners with
new knowledge and advice to guide future management decisions,” she says.
Image by: Dr Damian Michael