Symposium explores past and future of Mallee

Archaeologists, anthropologists, historians and ecologists descended on Mildura for a symposium that explored the past and future of the Mallee.

The ‘Layers of Settlement’ symposium offered a stimulating conversation about the history and future of the Mallee as a multicultural cornerstone of rural Australia.

The symposium was hosted by La Trobe University’s Centre for the Study of the Inland (CSI) – a research centre that brings together brings together key strengths of the University including Archaeology, History and Social Sciences. The Centre has a broad focus on inland Australia, and specifically the Murray Darling Basin, with environmental change a key theme.

The event, held over April 4 – 6 2019, comprised panel discussions, a field trip to Mungo National Park led by archaelogists who have been working in the field for years, a conference dinner and finally an exhibition at The Art Vault that celebrated the theme - Layers of Settlement.

Director of the Centre for the Study of the Inland and environmental historian Professor Katie Holmes said the symposim recognises the unique history of the region.

“Five million years ago the region lay under the sea. Now it hosts a vibrant multi-cultural community. But that past history still shapes the present environment, the foods we grow and the recreation we enjoy. This sypmposium captured those dramatic changes and looked at the connections between the past, present and future of the region,” said Professor Holmes.

Professor Katie Holmes has published a forthcoming co-authored book on the environmental history of the Mallee.  Many of her colleagues whom presented at the symposium, also conduct research in the Mallee region.

Dr Nicola Stern is a world reknowned archaeologist who has spent over a decade working on the Willandra Lakes. She led a trip to Lake Mungo, providing a unique opportunity to see the area with researchers and Traditional Owners who know the area well. Professor Richard Broome talked about what we know about Aboriginal history of the area at the time of settlement. Professor Alan Lester, who holds a joint appointment with La Trobe University and the University of Sussex, set the European settlement of the region in the context of other Empire endeavours. Dr Makiko Nishitani has worked with recent immigrant groups to the area and discussed some of the challenges they face.”

“We also engaged many local community members on our panels, such as Dr John Cooke, Deputy Chair of the Mallee Catchment Management Authority, Anne Mansell, CEO of Dried Fruits Australia, Dean Wickham of Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council and Stefano de Pieri.

“We partnered with The Art Vault on the event, who did a call out through their artist community for pieces that explore the theme.  This exhibition was opened by Sandra Bruce, Director of the La Trobe Art Institute on Saturday afternoon,” says Professor Holmes.

Images credits:
Walls of China, Krystal Seigerman
GW Bot, Lake Mungo Glyphs - A Portrait, 2018, linocut on BFK paper, 57.0 x 38.2cm, edition 30

Media enquiries
Ashlee Ryan, Community Engagement Coordinator  
T 03 5051 4069 E a.ryan2@latrobe.edu.au

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