The book Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe puts forward a compelling argument for the reconsideration of the hunter-gather label for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians. The evidence insists that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating and storing. Living in permanent dwellings, with meeting places, connected by paths and the use of simple equipment such as fishing traps, storage structures, and water craft is well documented in this book and other sources of research.
The Bermagui Preschool Moodji Cultural Garden aims to provide an alternative understanding of our rich Australian history and correct the misconceptions and skewed views of our history as presented to us by colonial explorers. We hope that our children and families will learn that the Yuin people did build houses and dams, sow, irrigate and till the land, sew clothes and build fishing traps, bags and baskets. There existed a pan-continental government that generated peace and prosperity, with rich and vibrant languages, laws and trade systems, ceremonies and traditions.
It is envisaged the Bermagui Preschool Cultural Garden will include the following:
an agricultural space where children can grow crops traditionally farmed in this region including yams, oat grass, native grains, native rice and bush tucker. This space will include examples of irrigation systems and game farming. Opportunities to make and use traditional baskets and bags for gathering bush tucker, to use traditional tools to harvest crops and to bake traditional damper and simple bread and learn about game farming will be created.
Traditional aquaculture will be explored by creating irrigation systems and dam walls, as well as building fish traps and watercraft. Traditional housing, paths, meeting places, fire spaces, storage structures, shade shelters and totems will be installed, creating places where children can play and learn.
In consultation with Yuin elders, a focus on teaching Yuin language, law, trade systems, ceremonies and traditions will be encouraged in this cultural space.