A Snowy Mountains road project is helping preserve local Aboriginal storytelling through the ages and bringing information about sacred sites to the community, passing motorists and tourists.
Bogong moths, endemic to the area, and the dreaded “Goolgul” who has always lived in the mountains are among the stories captured in interpretive signs at Tumut and Gundagai.
“The high country was a place where people from many different Aboriginal groups came together, travelling hundreds of kilometres from the plains, the tablelands and the coast. They met at places on the edges of the high country, meeting at Tumut and Gundagai before travelling further up into the mountains,” reads one of the signs.
“You are standing in a rich cultural landscape with many places of significance including mountains of Mudjarn, Minjary and Thelbingug (Talbingo), the Bogong Peaks and the Murrumbidgee River.”
In the telling of Uncle Jimmy Ingram, the Goolgul lived in those mountains and guarded the Bogong moths until they were ready to fly. He also tricked young kids and collected them.
“The only way you could get him out is throwing water over him because he couldn’t swim, and ’cause he smelt to high heaven, he didn’t like water’,” said Uncle Jimmy.
Aunty Alice Williams, who represents the Wiradjuri and Wolgalu Aboriginal people, said the community welcomed the opportunity to preserve local cultural heritage.
“These signs are a great opportunity to educate and inform the wider community about the cultural significance of the landscape of the surrounding areas to the local Aboriginal people,” Aunty Alice said.
Transport for NSW A/Director South West Jonathan Tasker said the signs acknowledged the six identified Aboriginal cultural sites along Gocup Road.
“Transport for NSW consulted extensively and worked collaboratively with local Aboriginal knowledge holders and local councils to develop content and imagery for the signs,” he said.
The signs are the final part of the $70 million upgrade of Gocup Road, which provides a 31-kilometre link between the Snowy Mountains Highway at Tumut and the Hume Highway at Gundagai – a vital connection between the economic hubs of Sydney and Melbourne.
This five-year upgrade work on a windy and undulating road has provided motorists with improved safety, reduced travel time and better freight efficiency.
The signs are located at Carberry Park in Gundagai and about 200 metres along the Snowy Mountains Highway from the intersection with Gocup Road, just past the State Emergency Services building in Tumut.