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Youth goes digital in debate over Murray's future

30 MARCH 2004

An online photographic exhibition by Echuca youth will be launched tomorrow as part of National Youth Week. It marks the beginning of an ambitious communication project to get Murray Darling Basin communities talking about their local environment and cultural heritage.

Basin Bytes: Echuca - an alternative look beyond the paddle-steaming image of Echuca - is the first outcome of a $1.13 million partnership involving the National Museum of Australia, the Murray-Darling Basin Commission and the University of Tasmania.

Similar projects will be launched soon in Wentworth and then in other communities from Queensland to Victoria along the largest river system of Australia.

The 70 images of Basin Bytes will be revealed at 5.30pm this Wednesday March 31 at the Campaspe Shire Council in Echuca and simultaneously on the website of the National Museum of Australia in Canberra on www.nma.gov.au/basinbytes

"The National Museum is keen to see how our information technologies and connections to rural communities can help stimulate debate over the Basin's future," said the Museum's Web Project Manager Andrew Remely. "Our technologies have enabled rural people to participate in all stages of curating an exhibition - gathering digital images, cataloguing and captioning online, and using the web to show and build their exhibition."

Armed with digital cameras, nine young people led by Echuca artist Paul Gamble sought the stories, places and people that show a different side to what was once Australia's largest inland port.

"One young man became so attached to his camera it never left his pocket - he was always ready for that perfect shot," said Paul Gamble. "Intensive research was undertaken on both local history and family origins. They learnt who they were and where they live and showed a great deal of maturity and social awareness in documenting what they discovered."

The partnership communication project - Committing to Place - is funded by the Australian Research Council. The National Museum is working with other Basin communities to further build this web-based gallery of stories and images around cultural and natural resource issues of their area.

For interviews, images or more information please contact Public Affairs Director Martin Portus on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or m.portus@nma.gov.au