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The long history of TSRs

South East Local Land Services recently came together with TAFE NSW (Nowra Campus) to assess cultural heritage on a Traveling Stock Reserve (TSR) in the Shoalhaven area.

This partnership project is the first stage in raising awareness of Aboriginal cultural heritage on TSRs of the South East Local Land Services region. These cultural assessments will strengthen ties with the local Aboriginal community and highlight the need to protect them for their cultural significance. Cultural sites that are found on TSRs will be recorded and registered with the Office of Environment and Heritage.

TSR's were established over 100 years ago to enable the movement of livestock, from farms to markets or rail-heads. Some TSRs clearly follow routes which were used traditionally by Aboriginal people to travel across country.

These song-lines, paths or passages enabled movement of Aboriginal people throughout the land for collection of food and fibre, access to water, ceremonial sites and other cultural practices. TSRs remain important areas to Aboriginal people and can contain Aboriginal Cultural Heritage which needs to be protected and preserved.

TSRs generally include fenced areas for camping and watering stock overnight and many across the South East Local Land Services region are still used for grazing purposes, either under grazing permit, for travelling stock, routine stock movements between properties, or as emergency refuge. TSRs are also used for public recreation or as apiary sites and many are highly valued for their conservation and cultural heritage values.

Improving our understanding of the Aboriginal cultural heritage values of our TSR network is an important step in setting future directions for TSR management. Aboriginal people are the traditional custodians of our land and its values. TSRs are a community asset and something the local Aboriginal people in this area see as important.

Social, economic and natural values of TSRs will all be taken into account in the development of a TSR management plan for our region. Development of this plan will commence once the NSW Travelling Stock Reserves State Planning Framework has been finalised, which was on public exhibition late last year.

It is a wonderful thing to be able to look for cultural artefacts and bring to light how important cultural heritage is to both South East Local Land Services, TAFE NSW and the local Aboriginal people. The students thoroughly enjoyed the field day and look forward to the opportunity to assess further TSRs in the future.

Photo: Aboriginal TAFE Students speak with archaeologist Doug Williams about the cultural significance of TSRs.