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Roma was the first gazetted settlement following Queensland’s separation from New South Wales in 1859. It is a place that is resource rich in natural gas and oil. Fertile alluvial plains made up of reactive “black soil” surround the Bungil Creek which runs through the town and has been a food and water source for over thousands of years. The traditional owners of the land are the Mandandanji people, today made up of some 4000 members, with 300 living descendants embodying 14,000 years of direct connection to country and a history spanning at least 40,000 years. Mandandanji meaning “fishing net people”. Significant sites exist within the town of Roma, including Bora Rings, Burial Sites and the second Native Police Barracks located on a beautiful riverside location, some 86kms dew south. Roma’s architecture is predominately white, being the case for many Australian towns, however, lucking on the chance to spend some time with the Mandandanji mob elder, Duck, we thought we would make the most of the opportunity. The oldest types of Australian architecture tell much of their place. What did building to respond to a place’s seasons and weather look like?
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Exploring aboriginal architecture and the lessons we can take from it. We even build a Gunyah to test book knowledge with practice. CLICK THE IMAGE for the full zine.
• Traditional Owners = Mandandanji mob
• Brigalow belt south biogeographic region
• Mean annual temps; H - 28 L - 12.7
• Mean annual rainfall; 579m
• Population; 6,848
• Elevation 299 m
• Roma has a curved iron verandah roof profile that we saw no where else on our trip!
• Bark from box gums is easier to get off a few days after it has rained when the ‘sap is running'
• The first three white fella buildings in the town were hotels, before a single house was built
Roma’s rich alluvial soil. The town is built on reactive black soil that causes house slabs to crack and insurance work to carried out on new developments. The same soil supports huge livestock operations.
We used some of this bark in a Gunyah we made in Roma. Box Gum park peels off easily and can be shaped over a fire to provide a sturdy, water proof roof or walls.
Bobbie for scale
Note the verandah roof profile. It is not quite a bull-nose but curves from the top. We saw this on only a few other occasions on our trip but it was prolific in Roma.
The largest cattle sale-yards in the southern hemisphere are in Roma. Sale day is a sight to behold. Dust, shit, yells, bellows and incredibly well oiled logistics.
As part of our exhibition in Roma we worked with the local Mandandanji mob to re-construct a traditional Indigenous structure. These were our very quick sketch models to see which one was the most authentic from the stories and memories of the board.
What a legend! Uncle Duck took us out to show us how to get bark of box gums. He taught us how to recognise the leaf, make sure the sap was running and the get the piece off in one bit. Thanks Uncle Duck.
Bobbie adds box gum leaves as an insulating and water-proofing layer under the bark.
Our finished Gunyah with a indifferent occupant. Digging in the dirt was far more critical at the time. As it should be
We also made a float for the Easter parade. Helped by the legend to the left who was such an incredible help with local knowledge and enthusiasm.
Red dirt isn’t too far away. You can tell you’re past the Great Diving Range now.
We made a zine during our time in Roma, there was no opportunity to present this one so we spread it around the Mandandanji festival they were having. In portaloos, at the Gunyah, in the welcome packs! Get that Gunyah up-yah
Beautiful afternoon light and glistening grasses made for some breathtaking afternoon rising.