17 September 2012
Local students visit Wathayn traditional land
Last week, high school students from the Western Cape College visited Wathayn traditional land to visit a joint research project that is under way.
The year ten high school students were able to learn about how Western Cape York Aboriginal people have adapted to climate change over the past several thousand years,
Rio Tinto Alcan Weipa's Community Relations team escorted the students out on Country where several university researchers and traditional owners were able to help increase the students' understanding of how Aboriginal people have adapted to the changing environment of the Western Cape.
Dr Justin Shiner, Rio Tinto Technology and Innovation's Cultural Heritage Principal adviser, said he was delighted to give students the opportunity to learn more about our local cultural heritage sites.
"The students were fascinated to learn how our coastline has changed over time and were astounded to hear that our research has shown some shell mounds are as old as 2,500 years," Dr Shiner said.
Western Cape College teacher, Rose Goodall believes the excursion out on Country was a fantastic opportunity for the students to see first-hand the rich history associated with the Western Cape.
"The students really enjoyed the tour provided by Rio Tinto Alcan Weipa and were amazed to hear that some of the shell mounds found on Wathayn traditional lands are as hold as the pyramids in Egypt," Ms Goodall said.
"We look forward to hearing more about the environmental change and learnings from this year when the researchers visit again in 2013."
Rio Tinto Alcan Weipa is the industry partner in a three year Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant involving researchers from six universities - Macquarie University, Australian National University, the University of Auckland, Waikato University, Queensland University of Technology and the University of York.
The project will look at the past 6000 to 7000 years since the development of the estuaries around Weipa to see how the environment had changed.
"The project will give us a much deeper understanding of the relationships between the physical and biological environment, and the people who lived here in the past, and constructed the mounds," Dr Shiner said.
During the first two years of the ARC Linkage Grant, the researchers have scanned, photographed, logged and sampled about 50 shell mounds and performed other tests that indicated the environment around Wathayn has markedly changed over the past few thousand years.
For more information, please contact the Rio Tinto Alcan Weipa community feedback freecall hotline 1800 707 633.
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