The Northern Territory is blessed with incredibly beautiful National Parks and Reserves that offer visitors many different recreational opportunities while ensuring the protection of the natural and cultural resources of the area.
The cultural values of protected areas are as equally important as the natural and recreational values when it comes to land management.
Looking after the human community’s connection to country is as essential as looking after the plant and animal communities.
Judbarra/Gregory National Park and Gregory’s Tree Historical Reserve near Timber Creek in the Victoria River District are great examples of the protection of the historical connections to country.
Judbarra is an enormous park that is a rich and complex living cultural landscape with many Traditional Owners who maintain close and ongoing links to their land.
The nearby Gregory’s Tree Historical Reserve is a tiny pocket handkerchief of a park that also serves as a reminder of the region’s combined Indigenous, European exploration and pastoral histories.
The most obvious feature of Gregory’s Tree Historical Reserve is of course Gregory’s Tree, a huge boab that marks the area of the explorer Augustus Gregory’s “entrenchment camp”.
It still bears the arrival and departure dates of the exploration party on its scarred flanks.
The site is also an important public and private sacred site for the Traditional Owners of the area.
The nearby freshwater spring made it an excellent location for a campsite during ceremonies where everyone gathered together.
The huge tree itself is an important part of the Malajagu (Goanna) Dreaming.
Malajagu was a creation man who began his journey from the west, painting himself with goanna spots. He sang the goanna song and created the songline and dreaming track as he went, changing into a goanna man as he travelled.
When he reached the tree he changed himself into the boab where he remains today.
While the dates carved on Gregory’s Tree play a large part in its cultural importance we now recognize that scarring trunks in such a way allows bacteria and funguses to enter the tree, sometimes even killing it.
We do ask that today’s explorers record their park visit with photos and allow the stunning landscape to remain as they found it.