• Loddon Herald

UPDATE: It's in writing

Updated: Jul 15, 2021

UPDATE July 15: Djarra this afternoon released a statement saying "DJAARA recognises the significance of the Catto Lodge to local families and community members and will continue to keep an open conversation with them. The existing shelter (Catto Lodge) is not being altered as part of this project." Full report in next week's edition.


DJAARA chief executive officer Rodney Carter has confirmed that historic Catto Lodge will be retained in the revamp of Kooyoora State Park.

But he says the commitment will not be in writing.

“We are prepared to earn trust but don’t want to be dictated to,” the Bendigo-based Aboriginal co-operative leader said on Monday.

Mr Carter said Djaara wanted to be positive and constructive in leading the park works.

Following release of park revamp plans two weeks ago, there was concern in Loddon communities that brochures made no mention of Catto Lodge


Meetings with community and Catto family representatives in late January secured a verbal commitment to retain the lodge but they have continued to call for the undertaking to be put in writing.

Mr Carter said: “We have not moved on our previous position.”

He said calls for a written under-taking were thought to be a heavy-handed demand.

“The only evidence will be in the design concept to show that it (the lodge) is present,” Mr Carter said. “I don’t want people to feel concerned.”

Mr Carter confirmed he would be making a presentation to Loddon Shire Council this week on redevelopment plans.

A meeting is also scheduled this week with district residents and the Catto family.

A date was also being sought for a similar briefing to Ripon MP Louise Staley, Mr Carter said.

The Loddon Herald understands Djaara has formed a Wartaka or “champions group” of Dja Dja Wurrung Traditional Owners to ensure the site has the correct cultural identity and that the new designs and infrastructure reflect the Dja Dja Wurrung.

Catto Lodge was built in the 1950s and improvements made to the Melville Caves area over the next 20 years were funded by concerts held at the park.

“It would be good to have this in writing and clear things up once and for all,” Matt Catto said in last week’s Loddon Herald report.

District residents have said the development, provided it includes Catto Lodge, will be a welcome investment in Melville Caves and Kooyoora State Park.

They say the park has been neglected for infrastructure and access funding over recent years.

Mr Carter said on Monday that Djaara had to become better at sharing information on the park’s development.

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