Indigenous people in south-east Australia have developed strategies and theories around the allocation of cultural water and the broader notion of ‘cultural flows’ in response to two key triggers: the poor environmental health of the inland river country and the historic and contemporary failure of the Australian state and common law to recognise the property rights and political status of Australia’s first nations. In the Murray–Darling Basin, the very recent marked decline in river health and long history of agricultural settlement and colonisation are felt acutely by the traditional owners, whose ancestral homes are now inseparable from the new communities based on the agricultural and irrigation industries. In this paper we consider the experiences of the Wamba Wamba and Perrepa Perrepa people and the work of one of their key organisations, Yarkuwa Indigenous Knowledge Centre Aboriginal Corporation. The discussion does not encompass the whole of Wamba Wamba country but focuses on the Edward/Kolety and Wakool rivers and the town of Deniliquin, where Yarkuwa is based.
Authors: Jessica K. Weir, Steven L Ross, David RJ Crew and Jeanette L Crew