DEEP TIME - THE MUWININA
The land on which GASP is located was once part of the tribal country of the Muwinina people, whose country extended from the Huon River to the south, west as far as the upper reaches of the Huon, north to the upper Derwent River and east by the coastline between the Derwent River estuary and Huon River estuary. Their country also included nuenonne (Bruny Island), which was visited seasonally for muttonbirds and seals.
The original landscape in that time would have been an open (dry sclerophyll) forest dominated by eucalypts, with a great variety of plants including an understorey of sagg, native grasses and herbaceous plants, and would have been greatly modified by the practices of the Muwinina.
The use of fire created large open grassed areas within the landscape that were beneficial to macropods and other smaller marsupials resulting in greater numbers of these animals. The regular burning also created an intermediate area between forest and grassland that held a diversity of flora and fauna that would not have existed otherwise. It was this intermediate zone that provided the Muwinina with not only a diversity of food sources but also medicinal plants and natural resources for the creation of baskets, spears, digging sticks, etc.
The resultant landscape that was created by the Muwinina people is called an Aboriginal landscape.
The creation of an Aboriginal landscape was beneficial to the macropods and possums, the two main staples of protein in the Muwinina people’s diet. The macropods were hunted solely by the men with tea tree spears which had been straightened and hardened in camp fires. The spears were short compared to mainland tribes being approximately 6-7 foot long.
Possums were hunted by the women, who would climb trees with the aid of chock holes cut into the tree trunks and a rope of grass around the tree trunk and used to support the woman’s weight by being placed under one knee. The possum was flushed from its daytime sleeping hole and harassed to the ground where it was quickly dispatched by women waiting below.
The Derwent River also provided the Muwinina people with food resources such as mussel, whelk, mud oysters, warreners and seasonal bounties including water fowl, muttonbirds and their eggs. It was recorded in the journal of George Augustus Robinson of individuals eating upward of a hundred eggs in a day. So when the resource was available the people utilised it to maximum.
The location by the river would have provided the Muwinina people with numerous resources to live a comfortable existence.
Reference: An Aboriginal Heritage Values Survey of The Wilkinson Point & Elwick Bay Master Plan, Leigh Maynard, 2007
COLONISATION AND BEYOND
With the arrival of Europeans the landscape changed significantly due to farming, industrial activity, building, transport infrastructure and land reclamation over 200 years of development.
From the 1820s Glenorchy was dominated by farming estates and orchards. By the 1860s and 70s a diverse range of enterprises within the area had emerged including a tannery, soap factory, a hat factory, fruit preserving factories, and even tourism, with the area renowned for its scenic values.