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Wimmera CMA

Street Address:
24 Darlot Street, Horsham, 3400
(enter via Gleed St)

Postal Address:
PO Box 479, Horsham, VIC, 3402
Phone: (03) 5382 1544
Fax: (03) 5382 6076
Office Hours:
Monday to Friday, 8:30 - 5:00pm
(excluding Public Holidays and Christmas - New Year Closure.  Office may also be closed for short periods Monday mornings)


Launch of world-first Wimmera cultural heritage game

Jul 03, 2018

River Yarns DimboolaAunties at Dimboola
Horsham is the launching pad for a world-first simulation game that immerses people into the Wimmera’s cultural heritage.

Immersive heritage specialist, virtual historian and artist Brett Leavy will be in Horsham on July 10 to launch Virtual River Yarns as part of a regional project to strengthen cultural and environmental outcomes.

The interactive launch in Horsham Town Hall from noon until 3pm is part of NAIDOC Week celebrations. The free event includes lunch and children’s activities.

Virtual River Yarns will reveal how the Wimmera looked before European settlement using cultural stories and history from Traditional Owners and other partners.

Brett is from Bilbie Virtual Labs, a dedicated team of First Nations and non-indigenous serious game developers who recreate real environments for mapping Indigenous culture and heritage.

Brett has run a series of workshops and has been testing the game with Wimmera community members over the past six months. He’s also worked with Aboriginal digital media students from the Horsham Campus of Federation University Australia and Horsham Primary School pupils.

Brett also used information gathered during last year’s River Yarns tour, part of a Barengi Gadgin Land Council and Wimmera Catchment Management Authority Wimmera River Aboriginal Water Project. 
River Yarns Tour
The River Yarns tour involved Traditional Owners, Aboriginal groups, community groups, historical societies and local and state government representatives. They followed the Wimmera River system from Horsham to Lake Albacutya and documented cultural values, stories, memories and the Aboriginal community’s connection to the river using an Aboriginal Waterway Assessment tool.

Pictured in the photo from left to right are Heather Marks, Belinda Marks, Sharnie Hamilton, Hazel McDonald, Noelene Douglas, Faye Marks and Sandra Knight. They are taking a moment to relax by the Wimmera River at Dimboola during River Yarns last year. 
Strong cultural heritage
The Virtual River Yarns game gives users an interactive experience Wimmera-specific plants, tools, people and campsites.

“The Wimmera has a strong cultural heritage base. The Wimmera River is significant and Virtual River Yarns is an exciting and innovative way to honour and respect the community’s deep-seated connection with Country,” he says.

“The work with university and school students and through the River Yarns project has been invaluable in putting this together. Traditional Owners from the area have also been fundamental in helping my team bring their stories to life for others to enjoy. 

“I would also like to acknowledge the support and assistance of Wimmera CMA, particularly Ben Muir and Joel Boyd, and the warmth and acceptance of the broader community whose connection to country we have strived hard to represent authentically. I’ve got a team of six beavering away on the final touches, it’s going to fantastic.”
Indigenous history
Brett says the idea for creating serious games stems from his passion to educate the community about Indigenous history. He was initially targeting the growing number of young people who were into gaming but says the games are just as popular with older people and everyone inbetween.

“Virtual River Yarns allows users to meet the local people, then interact and be part of doing things like gathering water, making tools, creating art and other cultural practices,” he says. 

“It is digital storytelling using the most current gaming technology that’s available. We are building time machines in effect. We can take the traditional knowledge and present it in a way that’s better than anything done before.”

• The Virtual River Yarns launch is a partnership between Wimmera CMA, Barengi Gadgin Land Council, Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Corporation, Horsham and Wimmera LAECG and is funded through the Victorian Government’s Water for Victoria project.

• NAIDOC Week from July 8-15 has the theme ‘Because of her, we can!’ which celebrates the essential role that women have played - and continue to play - as active and significant role models at the community, local, state and national levels.