Indigenous connections, heritage and what makes a good anthropologist: Student fieldtrip to Mimburi on the Sunshine Coast

15 Oct 2018

On the weekend of 15-16th September, students in the course ‘Applied Anthropology and Indigenous Territories’ participated in a fieldtrip to Kabi Kabi country in the Mary Valley organised by Richard Martin and Kim de Rijke. The fieldtrip took place at ‘Mimburi’, a 300-acre former cattle farm on the banks of the Mary River that is managed by Noosa District State High School (NDSHS). This property was acquired by the Queensland Government some years ago during the failed Traveston Crossing Dam project. It contains important Aboriginal cultural heritage sites and has high biodiversity values. 

Students had the task of listening to Kabi Kabi representative Alex Bond (great-grandson of Fred Embury, grandson of Dennis Embury, and son of Penny Bond of the Kabi Kabi people) as he explained some of the Aboriginal significance of the Mimburi sites for local people, his and other people’s connections to the area, and the politics of Indigenous territorial recognition that requires, in his words, “good anthropologists to do good work”. Alex took the group on walks around important places on the property so students could record GPS coordinates and practice mapping skills, learn to write field notes, and ask questions relevant to applied anthropological practice and native title research. He explained how the Mimburi property and Aboriginal connection to it included physical evidence of the use of the land such as scarred trees and ceremonial grounds, the knowledge of pathways that run along the ridges and across the rivers and beyond Mimburi’s boundaries, and the ways that these places link to cultural knowledge of kin, country and broader territory.

Students and staff were hosted for two nights camping at ‘Mimburi campus’, which has excellent facilities including tents, toilets, showers, a kitchen and teaching areas. Stan Chandler and Andrew Mahony from NDSHS were enthusiastic and wonderful hosts. Stan’s discussion of farming practices and the local environment complemented Alex Bond’s discussion of Indigenous tangible and intangible heritage. 

As a first fieldtrip to Mimburi, Alex, Stan, Andrew, Richard, Kim and the students were joined by Andy Fairbairn (from UQ Archaeology) and Sally Babidge (Head of Anthropology) for an interdisciplinary experience of community engagement, outreach and collaborative possibility. Watch this space as we develop this exciting initiative!