Today there is evidence along the coast and hinterlands around Bridport that testifies to the presence of a once vibrant and dynamic people who are the traditional owners of this Country. The leenerrerter clan belonged to the territory between the polelewawta (Little Forester River) and wartenerkardouler (Great Forester River). Plants, trees and animals of the Forest Placescape are significant to Aboriginal cultural values, and surround you as you walk along the track and into Country.
“Before ‘going into Country’, the women traditionally ochre the peppermint gums in ‘welcoming back the good spirits’ and the men use the smoking bowl to cleanse Country.”
→Ochre was an important cultural resource for the leenerrerter . Aboriginal women obtained and prepared ochre. It was ground into a sacred powder and used for ceremonial body and tree marking. It was also mixed with grease to waterproof the body, hair and beards of the men. Present day Tasmanian Aborigines still consider ochre to be a special cultural resource. Polelerwine (red ochre) is highly prized.
→The leenerrerter people practiced complex forms of reverence towards the remains of the dead. One practice was to place the deceased in an upright position in the burnt-out hollows of the living peppermint gum using lengths of brushwood or spears. Strips of bark were around the tree to hide the remains and protect them from animals. Those who had departed the physical world went to the spirit one on the ‘Islands of the Dead’ (Furneaux Group), and were never mentioned again.
→Grandfather and grandmother peppermint gum were culturally significant to the leenerrerter clanspeople both as a ceremonial tree and burial tree, and remain so for their descendants .
→Collecting places for fibres and food are evident in the Forest Placescape of the leenerrerter . The women gathered fibres to make string and collecting baskets, used for carrying food, women’s and men’s tools, shells, ochre, and eating utensils. To the present day, plants are carefully selected to produce strong, thin, narrow strips of fibre of suitable length for basket making. Several different species of plant still used include white flag iris, blue flax lily, rush, reeds and sag. There were seasonal cultural traditions that determined the right time to carry out a number of practical tasks. Women avoided cutting wild iris leaves and making baskets when the flowers were on the plants, and this tradition is practiced today.