USQ – Reinstating Aboriginal history and culture in the tourism landscape

USQ – Reinstating Aboriginal history and culture in the tourism landscape

University of Southern Queensland (USQ) researchers have been documenting a journey of discovery, as an impassioned Aboriginal woman leads her community and her region through a process of cultural sharing, to preserve heritage, history and self.

Angelia Walsh, from the Surat Aboriginal Corporation (SAC), has joyful childhood memories of growing up on a camp on the edge of town but at times these were clouded by fearful moments of hiding from the police who were known to take Aboriginal children from their families.

These tales, both good and bad, are critical moments of time in Australia’s Aboriginal history and Ms Walsh felt the need to preserve not only her own memories, but to help Aboriginal people in other towns in South-West Queensland preserve their memories and stories.

Ms Walsh worked with Aboriginal community partners in seven communities to develop the South West Indigenous Cultural Trail, where tourists and visitors can learn about Aboriginal history and culture.

USQ researchers, including specialists in cultural heritage, oral history, anthropology and ethnography, and psychology, were commissioned to support the development of the Trail and assisted with a story-gathering process across the towns of Surat, Roma, Mitchell, Charleville, Cunnamulla, St George and Dirranbandi.

The Trail is now open to visitors and those eager to learn more about the rich Aboriginal history and culture of each community.

“This process for our researchers of gathering stories has definitely strengthened the relationship between USQ and Aboriginal communities in the South-West. Through respectful listening, and demonstrating a commitment to the future of each community, we were able to establish a working relationship that will see USQ increasingly engaged with these communities and with research that matters to the community,” said USQ’s Dr Jane Palmer.

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Image caption:
USQ researchers worked with the Surat Aboriginal Corporation (SAC) to develop the South-West Indigenous Cultural Trail; reviewing the Trail maps are (from left) Dr Jane Palmer from USQ, Angelia Walsh from SAC, Dr Celmara Pocock from USQ and Associate Professor Lara Lamb from USQ.