Scarred trees are dotted along the side of the road, painting a picture of how Aboriginal people lived and used the land in years gone by. Scarred trees are the result of Aboriginal people cutting bark from trees and resulted in scars of various sizes.

While planning and designing important safety upgrades for the road, staff from our Grampians region identified potential scarred trees and engaged with the Barengi Gadjin Land Council (BGLC) to find out more.

BGLC representatives accompanied Department of Transport staff on site to assess and confirm the trees as culturally scarred and record their condition and location on the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Register (VAHR).

To help preserve Aboriginal cultural places, such as these trees, Victorians are encouraged to report their presence to the Heritage Registrar at First Peoples - State Relations.

While on site, BGLC staff also explained that Aboriginal people removed bark from trees for various purposes, including to make canoes, containers and shields and to build temporary shelters. On the Horsham – Noradjuha Road, it is likely the bark was used for canoes given its proximity to the Wimmera River and wetlands.

On some trees, small scars have been cut and represent toe holds that would have been used to climb high into the tree canopy to hunt possum or collect honey. 

Michael Bailey, Director of the Grampians Region, said “Specific management procedures for the registered trees have been developed together by DoT and BGLC staff and will be implemented prior and during works along Horsham – Noradjuha Road. These include cordoning off the trees as works commence and progress along the road”. 

Crews working on the project will also go through a cultural heritage induction prior to works starting, ensuring the significance of the site is known, acknowledged and protected.

The Horsham – Noradjuha Road upgrade is part of the Australian Government’s $3 billion Road Safety Program, being delivered in partnership with the Victorian Government. Works start in March 2022 and are expected to be completed by mid 2022.