DEG's latest community development initiative, the Walgett Walking Tracks project, was completed and launched 4 June 2015. Maps for the tracks and signs are available from this website.
Building upon the existing Tracker Walford Walkway, the Dharriwaa Elders Group graded new walking tracks in a recently forgotten (or well-kept secret) and very beautiful area on the banks of the Namoi River. The new walking tracks take in where the historic Chinese-operated market gardens operated until the mid 1960s, parts of Walgett’s spectacular golf course, a special waterhole where the Spirit Dog Mirriwuula lives and Montkeila Bend - where Aboriginal people lived in tin humpies before they were welcomed to live in the town of Walgett. 16 interpretive signs are now along the walking tracks and one is located at Trevallion Park. A picnic shelter has been erected at a popular fishing spot near the Namoi River weir, 5 park benches were installed in various locations and botanical labels erected.
10 of the signs offer environmental education – from knowledge provided by Dharriwaa Elders Group members Gladys Walford, Clem Dodd, Virginia Robinson, Fay Sands, Lewis Beale, Beau Thorne and Jason Murray, combined with information from Philip Spark, prominent ecologist in this region, Claire Bergin from North West Local Land Services, NSW Fisheries and others. We think we have produced a unique blend of local and published knowledge that celebrates the glories of creation here in this cathedral around us. To supplement the work of our in-house photographers, Dharriwaa Elders Group was lucky to obtain licences from the very generous wildlife photographers Philip Spark, Ian Montgomery and Gunther Schmida. We want to pay tribute to these photographers whose lifetime work is studying and sharing high quality photography of birds, fish and animals with the world.
6 of the interpretive signs provide historic and cultural information. They offer information mined from the Walgett Elders’ memories, assisted by the wider community. Information is shared about life at the Aboriginal communities of Namoi Village, the old brewery and Montkeila Bend, memories of the flood times and other natural disasters, Walgett’s Aboriginal servicemen and women, Walgett’s Aboriginal Trackers, the Freedom Ride visit to Walgett in 1965 and some information about the “chinamen’s gardens” that fed Walgett, as well as the Chinese business houses of Walgett in the past. Many helped us during the extensive research period undertaken.
Funding was provided by the NSW Environmental Trust Fund who contributed the 10 environmental signs, cleanup and track grading. North West Local Land Services contributed the park benches and botanical labels. The Walgett Community Capability Fund of the Rudd Government paid for 5 x cultural signs and the picnic shelter, and the Commonwealth Government 2014 NAIDOC week funds paid for the Aboriginal servicemen and women sign. Walgett Shire Council contributed the directional signs to the tracks which we are grateful for. We thank the directors of the Sporting Club for encouraging us to include the golf course in the new walking tracks so we could keep along the river – this made a huge difference.
Project details can be read in Producer Wendy Spencer's speech.