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«2009/08 Prioritising rock-holes of Aboriginal and ecological significance in the Gawler Ranges Melissa White Knowledge and Information Division ...»

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DWLBC REPORT

Prioritising rock-holes of

Aboriginal and ecological

significance in the

Gawler Ranges

2009/08

Prioritising rock-holes of

Aboriginal and ecological

significance in the Gawler

Ranges

Melissa White

Knowledge and Information Division

Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation

31st December 2008

Report DWLBC 2009/08

Knowledge and Information Division

Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation

25 Grenfell Street, Adelaide GPO Box 2834, Adelaide SA 5001 Telephone National (08) 8463 6946 International +61 8 8463 6946 Fax National (08) 8463 6999 International +61 8 8463 6999 Website www.dwlbc.sa.gov.au Disclaimer The Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation and its employees do not warrant or make any representation regarding the use, or results of the use, of the information contained herein as regards to its correctness, accuracy, reliability, currency or otherwise. The Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation and its employees expressly disclaims all liability or responsibility to any person using the information or advice. Information contained in this document is correct at the time of writing.

© Government of South Australia, through the Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation 2009 This work is Copyright. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cwlth), no part may be reproduced by any process without prior written permission obtained from the Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation. Requests and enquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be directed to the Chief Executive, Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation, GPO Box 2834, Adelaide SA 5001.

ISBN 978-1-921528-32-3 Preferred way to cite this publication M White, 2009, RPrioriitising Rock-holes of Aboriginal and ecological significance in the Gawler Ranges, DWLBC Report 2009/08 Version 1, Government of South Australia, through Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation, Adelaide Download this document at: http://www.dwlbc.sa.gov.au/publications/reports/html FOREWORD South Australia’s unique and precious natural resources are fundamental to the economic and social wellbeing of the State. It is critical that these resources are managed in a sustainable manner to safeguard them both for current users and for future generations.

The Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation (DWLBC) strives to ensure that our natural resources are managed so that they are available for all users, including the environment.

In order for us to best manage these natural resources it is imperative that we have a sound knowledge of their condition and how they are likely to respond to management changes.

DWLBC scientific and technical staff continues to improve this knowledge through undertaking investigations, technical reviews and resource modelling.

Scott Ashby

CHIEF EXECUTIVE

DEPARTMENT OF WATER, LAND AND BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION

Report DWLBC 2009/08 iii Prioritising rock-holes of Aboriginal and ecological significance in the Gawler Ranges Report DWLBC 2009/08 iv Prioritising rock-holes of Aboriginal and ecological significance in the Gawler Ranges

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This project was funded by the South Australian Arid Lands Natural Resource Management Board and conducted in unison with the South Australian Native Title Unit. This project would not have been successful without the support and engagement of the Aboriginal people and pastoralists of the Gawler Ranges.

In particular, Glen Scholz from DWLBC’s Knowledge and Information Division, who provided valuable scientific knowledge especially during the production of the conceptual diagram of rock-hole processes.

The following people are acknowledged for their contributions to this report and the valuable

information collected from the October 2008 field trip to Wilgena Station:

Wilgena Station Managers:

- James and Joanna Gibson, and their children Mimi and Molly.

Gawler Ranges Claimant Group (present on the field trip):

- Eileen Wingfield

- Janice Wingfield

- Sue Haseldine

- Simon Prideaux

- Brandon McNamara

- Tony Smith

Anthropologists (present on the field trip):

- Mike Harding (South Australian Native Title Services)

- Jan Scott (LocuSAR/Adelaide University)

- Craig Gilbert (LocuSAR/Adelaide University)

- Tim Cuthbertson (LocuSAR/Adelaide University) Senior Pastoral Consultant

- Don Blesing

–  –  –

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

SUMMARY

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 WHAT IS A ROCK-HOLE?

1.2 PROJECT OBJECTIVES

1.3 ABORIGINAL ACCESS TO WATER

2. ROCK-HOLES AS A WATER RESOURCE

2.1 FORMATION

2.2 CONCEPTUAL DIAGRAM

3. WATER IN THE ARID LANDSCAPE

3.1 INDIGENOUS

3.2 EUROPEAN

4. THE ECOLOGY OF ROCK-HOLES

4.1 LOCATIONS





4.2 PLANTS

4.3 ANIMALS

4.4 MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

4.5 SUMMARY

5. FIELD VISITS

5.1 OCTOBER 2008

5.2 MEELERA ROCK-HOLES

5.3 MICKLEBAR ROCK-HOLES

6. RECOMMENDATIONS

APPENDICES

APPENDIX A.

GLOSSARY

REFERENCES

Report DWLBC 2009/08 vii Prioritising rock-holes of Aboriginal and ecological significance in the Gawler Ranges

LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 2.2 Examples of the different topographic forms of granite outcrops (Main, 1997)..... 6 Figure 2.3 Example of a pavement-shaped (left) and tumulus-shaped (right) granite outcrop in the Gawler Ranges on Wilgena Station (M. White, 2008)

Figure 2.4 Example of a deep pit-gnamma that contains water for extended periods in the Gawler Ranges Area (photograph from the Kokatha Mula website, 2008).

........... 7 Figure 2.5 Examples of pan-gnammas that contain water for shorter durations in the Gawler Ranges at Wilgena Station (M.White, 2008)

Figure 2.6 Example of the vegetation associated with the apron run-off zone of a granite outcrop in the Gawler Ranges (M.

White, 2008)

Figure 2.7 Conceptual Diagram of the functions and processes occurring at rock-hole in the Gawler Ranges

Figure 3.1 From left to right; Rock Istome (Istome petraea) growing on the edge of a granite pavement, and Quandong (Santalum acuminatum) growing in a sand-dune field in the Yellabinna Reserve in the Gawler Ranges (M.

White, 2008)

Figure 3.2 A granite pavement on Lake Everard Station in the Gawler Ranges that has had a stone wall cemented around its base to feed a water collection point (M.

White, 2005)

Figure 4.1 Distribution of granite dominated geology in South Australia overlaid with the South Australian Aquatic Bioregions, this map incorporates data which is Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) 2009

Figure 4.2 Two types of macro invertebrate crustaceans of Branchiopods, fairy shrimp (left) and clam shrimp (right) that may occur in rock-holes

Figure 4.3 Temporal changes in maximum depth and electrical conductivity of the Warumpi Hill rock-hole, near Papunya in Central Australia (Bayly, 2001)

Figure 5.1 Location of granite outcrops visited in the Gawler Ranges as part of this project in October 2008.

This map incorporates data which is Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) 2009.

Figure 5.2 Dry pit-gnammas on the Micklebar granite pavement in the Gawler Ranges showing evidence of sediment collection in the bottom of the pits at 8 October 2008 (M.

White, 2008)

Figure 5.3 Quandong (Santalum acuminatum) seeds collected in the pan-gnammas on the Micklebar granite pavement in the Gawler Ranges, deposited by emus that feed on the fruit and drink at the rock-holes (M.

White, 2008)

Figure 5.4 Shrubs and an Aboriginal Wiltja (scrub hut) associated with the run-off apron zone on the Micklebar granite pavement in the Gawler Ranges (M.

White, 2008)25 Report DWLBC 2009/08 viii Prioritising rock-holes of Aboriginal and ecological significance in the Gawler Ranges

LIST OF TABLES

Table 4.1 Field Information to be collected as part of the ecological assessment of rockholes

Table A. Rock-hole data from Pastoral Lease Field Diagrams from 1899 - 1901.............. 29 Table B. Plants recorded as growing in pit and pan gnammas in South Australia (Bayly, 1999)

Table C. Mammals potentially using rock-holes in the arid lands (Robinson et al, 1985;

Ehmann, 2005). * Indicates introduced mammals

Table D. Reptiles associated with rocky areas from the 1985 Gawler Ranges Biological Survey (Robinson et al, 1988). Also listed are frog species with a distribution range into the Gawler Ranges (Ehmann, 2005).

Report DWLBC 2009/08 ix Prioritising rock-holes of Aboriginal and ecological significance in the Gawler Ranges Report DWLBC 2009/08 x Prioritising rock-holes of Aboriginal and ecological significance in the Gawler Ranges SUMMARY The Knowledge and Information Division of DWLBC is working with the South Australian Arid Lands (SAAL) Natural Resource Management (NRM) Board, South Australian Native Title Unit and Aboriginal people of the Gawler Ranges to identify culturally significant rock-holes in the Gawler Ranges. Most pastoralists in the Gawler Ranges area have registered an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) which acknowledges the different rights and interests that parties have in land and water. This agreement allows negotiations of Native Title in a framework that respectfully meets the needs of individual pastoralists and the Aboriginal communities. This program seeks to engage both communities in negotiating Aboriginal access to rock-holes on pastoral land identified from ILUA in the Gawler Ranges.

Water in the arid landscape has played a significant role in occupation and settlement since humans first arrived in Australia more than 60,000 years ago. For Aboriginal people in the arid areas of South Australia rock-holes provided a crucial water supply but also facilitated access to a wider area and a larger range of resources. Aboriginal routes in arid areas were largely governed by the occurrence and distribution of rock-holes with tracks radiating out from them. The more important water supplies usually have a totemic significance and play a very important part in Aboriginal ceremonial and social life and were often central trading locations. The Aboriginal people of the Gawler Ranges region include the Barngarla, Kokatha and the Wirangu people.

Due to lack of surface water, pastoralism was not developed in the area until wells were sunk and watering points were installed across the landscape. Today, pastoralism mostly accesses bore water and rarely the water collection points on the granite outcrops therefore creating the perfect opportunity for both pastoralists and Indigenous people to work together in maintaining these culturally significant water resources. However to adequately understand the relationship between these components anthropologists, ecologists and pastoral consultants are working with both communities to integrate management of land, water and cultural practices.

The first stage of the ecological component of the program was to review biological and physical form literature on rock-holes to conceptualise the function, processes and ecological value of rock-holes and their surrounding ecosystem in the arid interior to determine the ecological field information that needs to be collected for the next stage of the ecological component of this program.

Rock-holes or gnammas, an Aboriginal Western Desert term often used by scientists, exist in a variety of environments and rock types, this project is concerned with those that exist in the Gawler Ranges and are located on granite outcrops. Rock-holes form on granite outcrops due to chemical weathering processes and are filled by localised rainfall events. Rainfall frequency, evaporation rate and size and depth of the hole along with animal and human uses will determine whether the holes contain water for weeks or months. This information

was used to form a conceptual diagram, which determines the ecosystem:

1. Drivers (granite outcrop morphology),

2. Processes (rainfall frequency, evaporation rate, animal usage) and,

3. Features (siltation, stock and feral animal presence, distance to alternative watering point).

Report DWLBC 2009/08 1 Prioritising rock-holes of Aboriginal and ecological significance in the Gawler Ranges

Key findings from the literature review on scientific studies on rock-holes were:

• On granite outcrops when the slope is less than 20° rock-hole formation occurs.

• Plants and animals associated with granite outcrops and rock-holes are not largely recorded for South Australia.

• Studies of plants and aquatic invertebrates in Western Australia have found rockholes species endemic to the rock-hole environment. Species associated with rockholes and outcrops occur across the landscape in a similar fashion to the Island Biogeography theory (an "island" of suitable habitat surrounded by an expanse of unsuitable habitat).

• Generally, terrestrial animals are not restricted to granite outcrops and with the instalment of watering points by pastoralists in the Gawler Ranges region, mammal and bird reliance of the rock-holes would have decreased.

• Aquatic and terrestrial animals associated with rock-holes may live out their entire life cycles in the rain-filled pools while other utilise the water either opportunistically or dependently.

• Rock-holes may contain submerged aquatic plants or plants that grow in the sediment of the holes during the drying process. Seeds of these plants will survive in the sediment till the next inundation.



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