Frying Pan Island preserves local Aboriginal heritage

THE Glenorchy Reconciliation Group is working with volunteers and the local community to preserve an important Aboriginal heritage location in the City of Glenorchy.

Frying Pan Island, which is part of the Uniting AgeWell Strathaven Aged Care Facility property, is an Aboriginal midden site that is listed on the Tasmanian Aboriginal Site Index.

It is a significant place of culture and nature, holding a special place in the hearts of late Aboriginal Elder Aunty Ida West, who was and continues to be supported by Elder Aunty Eva Richardson and others who have lived at Strathaven for many years.

Elder Rosemary Brown said she remembered travelling to the island regularly with Aunty Ida.

“Aunty Ida and I used to go to the island and have picnics and sandwiches on warm days,” she said.

“The island is an important historic cultural place where we can remember Aunty Ida and other past Elders.”

During her time, Aunty Ida was at the forefront of reconciliation efforts.

Members of her family and community are now involved in continuing her legacy by seeking to build relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

In the past few years, the Glenorchy Reconciliation Group has become a part of the Landcare network, which has seen more than 40 volunteers help to remove noxious weeds from the island.

The Tasmanian Community Fund (TCF) has also granted the Glenorchy Reconciliation Group funding, which has contributed to both the installation of a memorial for Aunty Ida West and the implementation of a preservation project.

The preservation project is important in keeping the island free from ongoing erosion and noxious weeds.

Kris Schaffer, of the Glenorchy Reconciliation Group, said the project was integral in ensuring the island continued to remain a heritage site.

“I think it’s important to acknowledge the changes that have taken place on the island over the years,” she said.

“This project will help to keep the integrity of the island intact, and not let it be eaten by civilisation.

“It is so important, because the island is a place that really embraces the true Aboriginal sense of family.”

TCF chairperson Sally Darke said it was great to see community volunteers working together to protect, conserve and maintain an important Aboriginal site in the local Glenorchy area.

“In addition to honouring Aunty Ida’s memory, this project creates opportunities for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to work together to protect Aboriginal heritage, build respect, engage in cultural education and strengthen relationships,” she said.

“Hopefully, the Frying Pan Island site continues to develop a greater understanding of Aboriginal heritage and contemporary practices within the local community.”

Frying Pan Island is currently visited by members of the wider community and families of aged care residents at Strathaven.

The ongoing aim of the project is for it to become a model for other Aboriginal heritage sites along the River Derwent so that the local community can develop a greater understanding of protection of Aboriginal heritage.

Frying Pan Island and the Glenorchy Reconciliation Group have been shortlisted for a National Landcare Award – the Rio Tinto Indigenous Land Management Award.

Community members can vote for Frying Pan Island at www.nationallandcareconference.org.au/.

Voting closes on 10 October 2018.

Volunteers from the Glenorchy Reconciliation Group will travel to the National Landcare Awards in Brisbane in October.

Caption: Tasmanian Community Fund administration and project officer Toni Ashlin, left, and local resident Rosemary Brown in front of Frying Pan Island.