Learning from our Elders – Recording the Environmental History of the Kiewa Valley (2014)

This Project was funded by the Gardiner Foundation and the "Into our Hands" Foundation

What we did

Older farmers from the Kiewa Valley (dairy & beef) were interviewed about their memories of the environment. This included recollections about waterways, vegetation types & density, Indigenous heritage, Native and pest plant and animals and what has changed over time. Historical records (photos, newspaper articles, paintings & maps) were sourced and scanned.

Why we did it

Many of our older landholders hold a lifetime of memories that are specific to our environment. Having spent a lifetime living in the one area, they often have an intimate knowledge of the landscape, the waterways and of plants and animals. Many of these landholders are one of successive generations to work the land, so they also may carry the knowledge and stories of their fathers and fore-fathers (and mothers!). If these memories are not recorded – they will be lost.There are many lessons that can be learned from the past – what worked – what didn’t, that are relevant to future environmental planning and works.


The community, including future generations will benefit by having access to information about how our environment has changed over time and more importantly, how we can measure environmental gains through works undertaken.

There is mounting evidence that our bushland is much denser than it was prior to European settlement. In his multi award-winning book Bill Gammage (2011) puts forward the proposition that aborigines used fire to maintain grassed areas, rejuvenate root-based gound covers and to reduce the intensity of bush fires. Given fire events in the North East – this has important ramifications to our fire-ravaged communities.

Project outcomes (PDF and JPG documents)

Kiewa Valley Environmental History   (5.5 Mb pdf)

A selection of historic newspaper articles from the Kiewa Valley by topic:

Aquatic Life 

Bird LIfe  

Flood, fires & dust storms

Indigenous Heritage

Waterways & Erosion

Pest Animals

Land Conservation Council - Victoria Historical Maps & Surveys North East Victoria

Geology Map (6.7 MB)

Land Systems Map (5.5 MB)

Outdoor Recreation Map (5.9 MB)

Physiography Map (4.4 MB)

Public Land & Descriptive Blocks Map (4.7 MB)

Topography, Rainfall & Catchment Basins Map (5.5 MB)

1939 Kiewa River Survey Maps - State Rivers & Water Supply Commission

A series of ten detailed maps spanning the length of the Kiewa River starting at the Murray River (Sheet 1) and ending near Tawonga (Sheet 10). An invaluable and detailed snap shot. Details include: depressions, lagoons, high ground, erosion, rapids, willows, blackberries, log & brush sheeting & levee banks

You can view the maps by clicking on a sheet number.

Sheet 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10