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Australian Bushfires Revealed Ancient Aquatic System

After the bushfires have burned away thick vegetation in the state of Victoria revealed extensive water channels built by indigenous Australians thousands of years ago to trap and harvest eels for food. These channels are considered to be older than pyramids.

According to UNESCO, the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape that includes channels, weirs and dams built from volcanic rocks is currently the most extensive and oldest aquaculture systems. Though archaeologists knew about the existence of this aquatic system it was added to UNESCO World Heritage List last July as newer sections were exposed as the fires ripped through the state in December.

According to CNN reports, Denis Rose the representative of Gunditjmara and the project manager at Gunditj Mirroring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, which is a non-profit group, said that it was bigger than what was recorded in previous reports. When they returned to the areas they found the channel hidden in the grass and other vegetation. It was around 25 metres(82 feet) long which was fairly large. He further said that surprisingly the fire revealed new structures were visible in the burnt landscape that resembled channels and ponds.

The Aboriginal Corporation’s website says that this aquaculture system in Budj Bim National Park was built by the indigenous population. They used freely available volcanic rocks from a volcano in the area that is now dormant. According to UNESCO people who lived in Gundijmara used this system to modify and redirect waterways that would help them maximize aquaculture yields. The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape is an exceptional proof of knowledge, traditions, ingenuity and practices of the Guditjmara.

Mark Mellington the district manager of Forest Fire Management Victoria said that in late December, the fire near the national park was caused by a lightning strike which then spread to some 7.90 square kilometres (790 hectares) in size. The firefighters took extra precautions with local groups to identify world heritage sites and use low impact techniques rather than heavy machinery to put out the fires.

According to the Victorian State government before European settlement, Gunditjmara was one of the several indigenous groups that resided in the southern parts of Victoria. Their population was high in the 1800s but decreased after Europeans arrived.

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