A closer look at the Yea Wetlands Discovery Centre
June 19, 2023
The Yea Wetlands Discovery Centre, in the heart of Taungurung Country is not only an accredited Visitor Information Centre but is also a multi-faceted learning experience on the importance of water resources and wetland ecology. It features interpretive displays, a gift shop, room hire and local information inside but the main drawcard is what is to be found outside. They have 32 hectares of wetlands and walking trails on their back doorstep offering recreational and educational opportunities in this unique habitat.
With strong family ties to the Yea area, Aunty Angela ten Buuren (Franklin), along with her family members have been heavily involved in the wetlands committee over many years. They are passionate about sharing the Taungurung story of this place and embedding Taungurung perspectives and culture into both the visitor experience and management of this important ecosystem on Country.
We yarn with Aunty Angela about the Taungurung aspects that visitors can engage with at the Yea Wetlands Discovery Centre precinct, including the Franklin Trail, Taungurung art, Indigenous Garden, and upcoming NAIDOC week events.
Firstly, please introduce yourself and your connection to the Yea Wetlands
I am the youngest sibling of Digger (Leslie) & Marie Therese Franklin from Mansfield and the great granddaughter of John and Harriet (nee Tull) Franklin from Yea. I love doing family genealogy research, Taungurung historical research, camping, travelling around Australia and gardening. I have been involved with the Yea Wetlands for the last six years, taking the baton from my sister Aunty Bernadette Franklin and my cousin Aunty Irene Lawrey. Each year I curate the NAIDOC week events with Julie from the Centre and have worked on various projects as head of the ‘Honour the Taungurung community group’. I have also provided guided walks through the wetlands talking about the Taungurung traditional use of plants.
Tell us about the Taungurung aspects that visitors can engage with within the Yea wetlands precinct
The gorrong dharrang (scarred tree) by Taungurung artist Sammy Trist, stands proudly at the entrance to the Centre. The sculpture of a Eucalyptus tree features Indigenous line art and the Taungurung totems, Bundjil the wedge-tailed Eagle and Waang the Crow. Inside the Centre is a Taungurung display showing various examples of artefacts and information about our culture. You can also find Ngarga Warendj gifts crafted by Uncle Mick Harding. There is an Indigenous Garden ‘Badj Baanang’ which provides people with an introduction to our bush foods and language. This was organised during NAIDOC week of 2017 with funding from Goulburn Broken Management Catchment Authority. Within the garden are two beautiful sculptures from Uncle Mick of Bundjil and Waang. They sit atop an impressive wooden fence that has artwork burnt into it by Uncle Mick and Cassie Leatham. Uncle Mick and Sammy’s designs are also incorporated into signage. If you wander a little further up the main street of Yea, you will also find Duguluk Ngarrgi by Taungurung artist Annette Sax, honouring a corroboree that was performed in 1844 by our Ancestors.
What will be involved in the wetlands redevelopment?
There is a $500,000 upgrade of the Yea Wetlands precinct being undertaken that will benefit visitors and the Yea community, this includes a 700 metre extension of the existing Wetlands walking trails to be known as the Yea River Kayigai Trail; six strategically placed riparian viewing points opening up greater opportunities for photographers, bird watchers and the general public to observe the many wading bird species inhabiting the wetlands during their seasonal migration; a Yea Wetlands sculpture trail focusing on the connection between Taungurung People and our connection to Country; and a substantial refurbishment of interpretive exhibits in the Yea Wetlands Discovery Centre highlighting the story of Yea, the Yea Wetlands and its flora and fauna but also with a stronger focus on Taungurung culture. All projects will include Taungurung artists.
What can visitors experience at this years NAIDOC events at Yea Wetlands?
NAIDOC Week is a time to come together to learn and to celebrate the Indigenous peoples of your area and the wider Indigenous communities’ achievements. This year’s NAIDOC Theme is “For Our Elders”, so I have worked on a small tribute to our Elders and what they do for our Taungurung community. The display will feature photos and biographies of Taungurung Elders. The photos are decorated with elements of biik (country) including leaves, flowers, and feathers my sister Aunty Bernadette has made for me. The NAIDOC week activities commence on Sunday July 2nd with a Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country that I will conduct. Also, part of the program is Uncle Ronald Briggs who will address the audience about the Voice to Parliament, Treaty and Truth. Uncle Ron is a Yorta Yorta elder, Senior Aboriginal Cultural Advisor and Program Facilitator at Caraniche. Uncle Ron will discuss the origins of the Voice movement in the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart and what the Voice is expected to achieve. Taungurung artist and educator Cassie Leatham will hold two workshops on Wednesday 5th of July . One will explore traditional weaving techniques using natural materials. The other will cater for primary age children with Mr Beaky story-telling and painting bird sculptures. Book these NAIDOC events here:
The Yea Wetlands Discovery Centre is open daily from 10am-4pm. Please note however, that parts of the wetlands are still closed due to damage from the October floods but should be reopened within the next few months.