Amidst the rows of shiny new machines on display at this year’s Henty Field Day were some of the oldest tools in the region.
Plenty of farmers have found stone artefacts on their properties, but many are cagey about who they will show them to.
They are the axes, grinding stones, hammers and anvils fashioned of stone, made and used by Aboriginal inhabitants for thousands of years across the Riverina landscape.
For three days, farmers made their way to the Talking About Stones stall, some excited to talk about their own finds, other furtive and wary.
The Talking About Stones concept was conceived by Australian National University’s Robyn McKenzie in partnership with the National Museum of Australia and Museum of the Riverina.
It’s all about starting a conversation between landholders, local Aboriginal groups, and local museums.
Regional Museums Officer Sam Leah supports museums across the Riverina area.
She says they realised early on that local museums only hold a tiny portion of the stone artefacts found in the region.
“We realised that many of these artefacts are in the possession of farmers,” she said.
One participant at the stall in Henty remembered an older farmer who would throw any artefacts he found into the river, such was his fear that the artefacts might trigger land claims from Indigenous groups.
Sessions in Forbes, Narrandera and Wagga Wagga will bring together geologists, Indigenous knowledge holders, farmers and local museums to take the conversation forward.
Farmers are invited to bring photos of the items they have found, share their knowledge, and find out more about the tools found on their properties.
Ms Leah is hopeful that the information gathered will help historians learn more about people movements on Wiradjuri country.
As one farmer put it, “This is important. It’s something that should have been sorted out 200 years ago.”
- Forbes: October 14 11am to 3pm. Wiradjuri Dreaming Centre.
- Narrandera: October 20, 11am to 3pm. Arts and Community Centre.
- Wagga: October 12, 10am to 2pm. Museum of the Riverina Council Chambers.
Information about Talking About Stones at www.museumriverina.com.au.