In photos:

In Photos: Cultural burns on Narungga and Nukunu Country reigniting restorative practice

22 May 2022

Keywords

  • Partnerships
  • land management
  • fire
  • indigenous partnerships
  • south australia
  • Regenerate Australia

Timeless cultural burning practices returned to Narungga and Nukunu Country with low-intensity burns at five sites on Yorke Peninsula and in the southern Flinders region of South Australia. As part of the Marna Banggara project, the Northern and Yorke Landscape Board is collaborating with First Nations people, Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation and National Parks and Wildlife Service to restore ancient traditional land management on Country, with funding from WWF-Australia’s Regenerate Australia program.

 

Take a look at some inspiring images of meaningful teamwork in action below.

"One of the most significant Aboriginal land management projects for the Nukunu people"

 

 Nukunu man Travis Thomas and Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park Ranger and Narungga, Nukunu man Dion Bromley

(Pictured L-R) Nukunu man Travis Thomas and Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park Ranger and Narungga, Nukunu man Dion Bromley © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

 

Nukunu man Travis Thomas said it was one of the most important Aboriginal land management projects for the Nukunu people in many years. “This project marks a return of cultural burning to our people, which was taken from us following colonisation. The use of fire is about looking after Country, connecting with Country and it’s an expression of our culture,” said Mr. Thomas.

Marion Bay CFS member Romeo Ljubicic leading the way for the CFS fire vehicle in preparation for the burn at Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

Marion Bay CFS member Romeo Ljubicic leading the way for the CFS fire vehicle in preparation for the burn at Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

 

“This cultural burning project also has broader benefits to the landscape and all people", Mr Thomas continues. "With an increase in cultural burning comes a reduction of fuel loads and a reduced risk of wildfires.”

 

To help get this vital work underway, the project team turned to Tagalaka man and Firesticks’ Lead Fire Practitioner Victor Steffensen, who holds fire workshops across Australia, to share his knowledge with First Nations people taking part in the project.

 

Tagalaka man and Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation’s Lead Fire Practitioner Victor Steffensen sharing his cultural burning knowledge. © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

Tagalaka man and Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation’s Lead Fire Practitioner Victor Steffensen shares his knowledge about cultural burning at a private property at Warooka, Yorke Peninsula. © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

 

  Tagalaka man and Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation’s Lead Fire Practitioner Victor Steffensen shares his knowledge about cultural burning at a private property at Warooka, Yorke Peninsula © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

Tagalaka man and Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation’s Lead Fire Practitioner Victor Steffensen sharing his cultural burning knowledge. © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

 

What is cultural burning?

 

Narungga man Peter Turner © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

 

Also known as fire-stick farming, cultural burning is a complex practice based on low intensity, cool burns with low flame height, that destroy weeds and promote native vegetation regrowth, particularly grasses. It is a return to the traditional practices of Aboriginal communities that used fire as one of their tools to manage the land.

 

Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park Ranger and Narungga, Nukunu man Dion Bromley starts a cultural burn © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

(Pictured L-R) Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park Ranger and Narungga, Nukunu man Dion Bromley starts a cultural burn © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

 

Cultural burns are the result of several months of planning

Cultural burns are the result of several months of planning, which began last year with Mr Steffensen joining Narungga and Nukunu representatives in visiting potential burning sites between Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park and Ardrossan on Yorke Peninsula and from Beetaloo Valley to Wilmington in the southern Flinders Ranges.

 

Ardrossan grasslands burn site © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

Ardrossan grasslands burn site © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

 

 Tagalaka man and Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation’s Lead Fire Practitioner Victor Steffensen crouching within a burn site on Nukunu Country near Beetaloo Reservoir. © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

Tagalaka man and Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation’s Lead Fire Practitioner Victor Steffensen crouching within a burn site on Nukunu Country near Beetaloo Reservoir. © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board


After the four-day road trip through Narungga and Nukunu Country, the Northern and Yorke Landscape Board held a workshop in Clare with attendees from the Department for Environment and Water (DEW), Country Fire Service, Metropolitan Fire Service, local government, the Native Vegetation Council and First Nations people, who have all played a part.

 

Attendees of the fifth cultural burn, which was held at Wapma Thura–Southern Flinders Ranges National Park. Back: Peta Standley, Training Services and Research Manager, Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation, Ben Stubbs, University of South Australia, Nukunu man Travis Thomas, Nukunu man Darryl Thomas, Beverley Thomas, Banksia Thomas, Casey Van Sebille, Kaurna, Narungga, Kokatha man Clem Newchurch, Jayne Boase, University of South Australia, Katie Doyle, Nukunu man Lindsay Thomas, Heather Thomas, Nukunu man Laurie Thomas, Tagalaka man and Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation’s Lead Fire Practitioner Victor Steffensen, Wayne Gaskon, Senior Park Ranger, National Parks and Wildlife Service SA, Gerry Turpin, Ethno-Botanist, Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation, Danny Doyle, District Manager, National Parks and Wildlife Service SA, Narungga man Rick Slager, Nukunu man Jared Thomas. Front: Mel Ford, Lil Walsh, Delilah Thomas and Anita Nedosyko © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

Attendees of the fifth cultural burn, which was held at Wapma Thura–Southern Flinders Ranges National Park. Back: Peta Standley, Training Services and Research Manager, Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation, Ben Stubbs, University of South Australia, Nukunu man Travis Thomas, Nukunu man Darryl Thomas, Beverley Thomas, Banksia Thomas, Casey Van Sebille, Kaurna, Narungga, Kokatha man Clem Newchurch, Jayne Boase, University of South Australia, Katie Doyle, Nukunu man Lindsay Thomas, Heather Thomas, Nukunu man Laurie Thomas, Tagalaka man and Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation’s Lead Fire Practitioner Victor Steffensen, Wayne Gaskon, Senior Park Ranger, National Parks and Wildlife Service SA, Gerry Turpin, Ethno-Botanist, Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation, Danny Doyle, District Manager, National Parks and Wildlife Service SA, Narungga man Rick Slager, Nukunu man Jared Thomas. Front: Mel Ford, Lil Walsh, Delilah Thomas and Anita Nedosyko © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

 

  Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park Ranger and Narungga, Nukunu man Dion Bromley, Narungga man Peter Turner, Narungga man Tyson Baker, Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park Ranger and Narungga man Aaron Smith © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park Ranger and Narungga, Nukunu man Dion Bromley, Narungga man Peter Turner, Narungga man Tyson Baker, Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park Ranger and Narungga man Aaron Smith © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

 

The project culminated with five burns led by Mr Steffensen with the involvement of about 20 First Nations people. The burns were held at Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park, on private land near Warooka, at a grasslands site in Ardrossan, at Beetaloo Reservoir and at a property near Wilmington.

 

Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park Ranger and Narungga, Nukunu man Dion Bromley with Nukunu man Travis Thomas. © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park Ranger and Narungga, Nukunu man Dion Bromley with Nukunu man Travis Thomas. © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

 

Northern and Yorke Landscape Board Aboriginal Partnerships Officer Matthew Turner said it was an exciting opportunity for the region, as cultural burning has become rare in southern Australia since colonisation.

 

Meryl Schiller, Aboriginal Engagement Coordinator, Department for Environment and Water, Fiona Fuhlbohm, Native Vegetation Officer, Department for Environment and Water and Peta Standley, Training Services and Research Manager, Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation. © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

Meryl Schiller, Aboriginal Engagement Coordinator, Department for Environment and Water, Fiona Fuhlbohm, Native Vegetation Officer, Department for Environment and Water and Peta Standley, Training Services and Research Manager, Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation. © 2022 Matt Turner, Northern and Yorke Landscape Board

 

“Nukunu and Narungga have not burnt on Country for a very long time,” he said. “They are interested in burning for a range of reasons – it’s good for Country, good for bush tucker and importantly, it’s an expression of culture.”

 

This project is jointly funded through the Northern and Yorke Landscape Board, the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, the South Australian Department for Environment and Water, WWF-Australia and Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife.

Other partners actively involved in developing and delivering the project include Regional Development Australia, South Australian Tourism Commission, Zoos SA, FAUNA Research Alliance, BirdLife Australia, Nature Conservation Society of SA, Narungga Nation Aboriginal Corporation, Primary Producers SA, Primary Industries and Regions SA, Conservation Volunteers Australia, Legatus Group, Yorke Peninsula Council, Yorke Peninsula Tourism and Scientific Expedition Group.

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