Menera Farm a hive of activity

First combined gathering is one of many activities

The first combined gathering of the Swan Hill and Kerang Koori communities for NAIDOC celebrations at Menera Farm is just one of a growing list of activities now happening at the historic property.
Menera Station, at Mellool, is leased from the Indigenous Land Corporation by Mallee District Aboriginal Services on behalf of the Swan Hill and Kerang communities
The 1455-hectare freehold station is on Wamba Wamba country on the NSW side of the Murray River, 25 kilometres from Swan Hill is operated as a sustainable farming enterprise and is used for an increasing number of community activities.
More than 100 people celebrated NAIDOC Week at the recent community day at the property, and MDAS Farm Manager Keith Hampton said for many Elders and community members it was the first opportunity to get back “on country” at Menera.
“It was just a fantastic feeling on the day.  It was really special for the Elders and the young ones connecting across the generations,” Mr Hampton said.
“The community day came after a boys’ cultural camp when boys from Swan Hill and Kerang were doing things like learning to throw spears and hunting witchetty grubs and they had a great time,” he said.
“At the community day, we had the young boys put on the dances they’d learnt in front of the oldies, and the Elders were just so pleased to see their grand kids and nephews getting to understand their culture and being proud of it.”
The successful submission to lease Menera was made by MDAS in partnership with, and at the request of, the Swan Hill and Kerang Koori communities in 2015.  The submission was chosen by the ILC because of the lasting benefits to Koori communities in the Mallee and southern NSW.
More than 1000 hectares of Menera is under irrigation and the property is currently producing irrigated, dryland crops, running cattle, and sheep under a share-farming agreement.
“We had a vision for a sustainable farming operation here that creates employment and provides skills development opportunities for Aboriginal people and that is now happening,” Mr Hampton said.
“The share-farmers we’re partnered with have been terrific in working with us to provide on-the-job work skills training in things like fencing, construction and property maintenance and providing training opportunities and partnerships with our justice programs.”
Justice worker at MDAS Swan Hill-Kerang and Wadi Wadi Mudi Mudi Elder Rick Kirby said it was exciting to see the growing community use of the property.
“I think the NAIDOC event was a real eye opener for people. It was our first chance to show off Menera to the community and I think people were excited about what’s happening here and the possibilities for the future,” Mr Kirby said.
“The community absolutely needs a place to be out on country, practising our cultural traditions – it’s the closest thing we have to being ‘out bush’ and the old people loved it and the young people loved it,” he said.
“We’re already planning more community cultural days, more activities out here, especially ones that will connect youth to Elders across the generations and a place like this…it’s good medicine.”

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MALLEE DISTRICT ABORIGINAL SERVICES  “Our Vision: "Self-determined, healthy, robust and culturally strong Aboriginal communities across the Mallee region."

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