Warddeken rangers Terrah Guymala and Conrad Maralngurra visited the Nawarddeken Academy and ran a fantastic session making music and workshopping a new song for the students. Terrah is the lead singer for the Nabarlek band and has extensive experience recording and performing his music. Terrah, Conrad and the students wrote and performed a song named “Ngulken”, all about bush trips and learning on country.
During the session, recordings were made of the students performance - these recordings and lyrics were added to the community driven and designed App, Kunmayali (using the app-builder, Tendril) as another resource for the students which will allow them and their families access to this song on their own devices.
This activity was a wonderful example of how the rangers can engage with the Nawarddeken Academy students in a fun and interactive way, while teaching them about their Country.
Mimal women rangers Lydia Lawrence, Anthea Lawrence, Learning on Country (LoC) Steering Committee member Jill Curtis and LoC Coordinator Sophie Lewis-Smith had the privilege of participating in a Marine Camp hosted by Yirralka Rangers and held at Marngarr Community in East Arnhem Land.
This was a science focused LoC camp for the senior students from the homeland communities within the Yirralka IPA. It was a great opportunity to meet with other ranger groups (Dhimurru rangers were also in attendance), teachers, scientists, fisheries, Yolngu Elders and community members and see the confidence the students involved in this program possess. The team is looking forward to bringing some of the skills they learned into the Gulin Gulin (Bulman) School LoC program, where rangers run weekly sessions with the students teaching them about land management, how to care for their country, and their culture.
Recently, the Warddeken Daluk (Women’s) Ranger team has grown, and is now based out of both Kabulwarnamyo Ranger Base, and the newest Warddeken ranger base at Mamardawerre. Stella Thomas has joined the team as the Daluk Engagement Officer at Mamardawerre, and has been getting to know the daluk rangers and their families.
Four daluk rangers from Mamardawerre attended the Territory Natural Resource Management (TNRM) Conference in Darwin for three days. Workshops were hosted with a focus on efficient communication of issues related to fire. It was a highly successful trip and the rangers met and networked with many other ranger groups. There has been a lot of interest to return in 2021 to present.
To celebrate the expansion of the Daluk Ranger Program, a daluk camp was held on the Mok clan estate near Kabulwarnamyo, bringing together 30 daluk (from teenagers to Elders), as well as 21 children. Daluk sat down for in-depth conversations about the customary roles of daluk in managing Country, and the opportunities and activities they would like to see Warddeken offer daluk rangers moving into the future. The daluk rangers discussed the sort of activities they would like to receive training for, such as the use of chainsaws, and firearms.
The camp was also a wonderful opportunity for cultural activities including a women’s ceremony, harvesting and weaving kun-dayarr (pandanus) and fishing for turtles. Given its success, Warddeken is planning for the daluk camp to become an annual event.
Mimal rangers have begun a project to protect and research savanna gliders (Petaurus ariel) in central Arnhem Land. The savanna glider has only recently been recognised as a distinct species (previously thought to be a sugar glider) and lives in the woodland savannas of Northern Australia. Like many small mammal species in Arnhem land, numbers of this glider are believed to have dropped by 35%.
Rangers have constructed 100 nest boxes, with drainage holes, hinged roofs, canopies on the entrance ways and attachment holes. Nest box installation is underway, and ecological monitoring has begun. The rangers spotlight for savanna gliders in the evening, recording sightings and signs of savanna glider habitation.
At the Nawarddeken Academy, students have the chance to learn not only the formal Australian (academic) Curriculum, but also about the local environment around them through the Indigenous Language and Culture Program.
Students have been working with the Warddeken Rangers to collect and document seasonal information for an upcoming Arnhem Plateau Seasonal Calendar that will show all seven local seasons - recently students have learnt about Kunumeleng, which is the very early wet season, when the first rains come occasionally but it's still hot and humid all day and night; and Kudjewk - the proper wet season. Excitingly, this Kudjewk has gotten off to a good start, with monsoonal rains pouring down for days on end - Elders and students have been very happy to see rivers and creeks pumping, and waterfalls flowing.
As part of developing the Seasonal Calendar, local community is being consulted to collect their thoughts and ideas to help with the design process. It is also an opportunity to collect the knowledge that will inform the contents of the calendar. For example, when speaking on the Kunumeleng (the very early wet season), the group shared the following:
When old people see the clouds build up, see that lightning, and smell that rain they make the decision to go to a cave on higher ground, in the stone country and shelter there during the wet season. They stay there from Kunumeleng to Kudjewk (the end of December to the end of March). They spend their time in the high Country during the wet season travelling around to find food - Kangaroo, Emu, Fish, Sugarbag.
Through this process, Jill Nganjmirra made up an example of what the calendar could look like, forming the basis of much of the discussion.
Anbinik (Allosyncarpia ternata) is a large evergreen tree found only on the Arnhem Plateau, where it dominates the fragmented monsoon rainforest communities, supporting a specific range of plant and animal species. Anbinik, which is the Kunwinjku (local dialect of West Arnhem Indigenous language) name for the species, is recognised as a proto-eucalypt, or ancestor to the eucalyptus species which grow across the Australian continent today. Anbinik is the only species in its genus and grows in dense rainforest patches, forming pleasant cool areas in a hot climate.
For thousands of years, Nawarddeken people have protected anbinik forest patches from its major threat, hot late season wildfire, with deliberate early dry-season (‘cool’) burning. This traditional management was interrupted by colonisation in the middle of the 20th century, which caused the Arnhem Plateau to be depopulated, breaking down traditional fire regimes.
Without Nawarddeken people’s skilful early burning, late season wildfires (ignited by lightning) were stoked by the build up of fuels, threatening the survival of anbinik forests and other fire-sensitive species and vegetation types. Warddeken rangers intend to strengthen their landscape-scale savanna burning program by reinstating traditional protection of vulnerable anbinik rainforest patches in 2021. This will increase the health & stability of at-risk anbinik patches, while providing opportunities for Traditional Owners to spend time working on their lands.
KKT is actively fundraising to support this critical conservation work, to keep these special places protected. If you are able to make a contribution, you can do so by clicking here.
KKT is honoured to welcome the newest two new board members, Cindy Jinmarabynana and Teya Dusseldorp.
Cindy is a Traditional Owner of Ji-bena and belongs to the Marrgiach and Angaywunbamar clan group, in the Djelk Indigenous Protected Area. Cindy holds a Bachelor in Teaching and Learning and is currently the Learning on Country Coordinator and Pre-school Teacher at Maningrida Community College. She has served on numerous boards and committees and has been involved in various Strong Women Groups. Cindy is dedicated to sharing her knowledge of culture and traditions to the next generation.
KKT is honoured to welcome the newest two new board members, Cindy Jinmarabynana and Teya Dusseldorp.
Over the last few months, KKT has been working with our partners at Warddeken to raise support for a project focussed on the protection of vulnerable Anbinik (Allosyncarpia ternata) rainforest patches within the Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area (IPA).
Anbinik is a species of tree unique to the Arnhem Plateau, and is recognised as a proto-eucalypt (ancestor) to the eucalyptus species found across Australia today. The project involves implementing a fine-scale cool burning program to protect at-risk Anbinik rainforest patches by reducing fuel loads and creating protective fire breaks. The project will also support Warddeken rangers to protect Anbinik patches from hot wildfire in the late dry season.
This work will complement the existing broad-scale fire management program, and help fill a key gap, which is resourcing the fine-scale protection of important places. If you would like to know more about this project, and how you can support it, please get in touch. Alternatively, you can make a donation to KKT on this website.
Over the last few months one of the highlights for the Nawarddeken Academy has been a very special week of cultural learning - the Barradj culture camp. 60 people, including 15 children, made the long journey south through four daworro (clan estates) to reach Barradj Country.
The camp began with a head wetting ceremony at a spring to welcome new visitors and to introduce them to ancestor spirits. After the welcome to Country, it was time to hear the elders talking (‘Kobahkobanj kabirriwokdi’). Elders Mary, Josie, Hagar and Leanne discussed the purpose of the camp, the importance of two-way education, and the significance of sharing cultural information about place, Country and families.
Rangers across Arnhem Land have been busy conducting early season burning, which ensures that late season fires do not burn as intensely - this practice is informed by knowledge created over thousands of years, albeit with modern technologies (like helicopters!).
One highlight for some of the Daluk (women’s) team at Warddeken over the last few months has been the chance to participate in aerial prescribed burning, which has sparked an interest in late-season fire fighting. Over the next few months there will be internal fire fighting training opportunities for daluk who are interested in learning more. Kabulwarnamyo support staff will also be working with the community to develop a plan for the fire fighting season that will involve daluk and bininj (men), which aims to create more efficient processes that will allow fire-fighters to rest during fire outbreaks.
On Mimal's Country, the women rangers have been creating fire breaks around important areas such as the weather station, camera traps and the spear grass which was planted as part of the revegetation project at Weemol Spring. It is a priority to burn early and burn “cold” to minimise wildfires later in the dry season.
The women rangers also did some roadside burning around the Weemol and Bulman communities, alongside the aerial burning from the chopper, with fire management knowledge being shared with the Gulin Gulin (Bulman) School children during the Learning on Country program.
Kurrukurlanj, also known as the Orange-footed Scrubfowl (Megapodius reinwardt), is a bit different from most birds. Instead of building a nest and incubating their eggs with their body heat, they build a large mound, heaped up with organic matter and expertly tended so as to generate heat by the composting process.
Senior Landowners have observed a decline of this culturally important species, which is supported by monitoring data which has only recorded the species in isolated areas to date. Landowners have hypothesised that pigs, feral cats and wildfire may be acting together to threaten the Kurrukurlanj in dry monsoon rainforest and vine thickets on the Mann River, where it was often found in the past. The daluk rangers at Manmoyi have identified sites of known historical occupation, and the rangers are independently conducting field trips to search for tracks and nesting areas, and set up remote camera monitoring sites. The daluk rangers have become experts in setting remote monitoring cameras over the last few years, and we're looking forward to seeing what their work reveals about the current status of the Kurrukurlanj.
The risk that Coronavirus poses for our remote partner communities in Arnhem Land is critical, due in particular to high rates of chronic disease. The cohort of elders are the holders of vast amounts of cultural and environmental knowledge, and are often the glue that hold these communities together. They are acutely vulnerable in this event. Our priority is to do what we can to ensure their wellbeing, and the wellbeing of all the Warddeken, Mimal, Adjumarllarl and Bawinanga rangers, their communities and neighbours.
Travel to the communities we work with has ceased without strict quarantine protocol. The coming months are crucial to our role of providing philanthropic support to ranger groups, and we will rely on technology and remote forms of communication to connect our generous supporters with the crucial environmental and cultural heritage projects that are partners are continuing to undertake.
Our mission to support indigenous led land and cultural management is as crucial as ever - in fact the months ahead may well be the most important in the history of our organisation. Over the next few months we may be asked to provide assistance in an entirely different way, and at an entirely different level, to that which we have provided to date.
By Dr Jennifer Ansell
Each year across Arnhem Land. Aboriginal ranger groups and Traditional Landowners undertake extensive fire management over an area of more than 80,000 km2 - an area larger than the size of Tasmania.
The 2019 fire season was always going to be challenging. The 2018-2019 wet season was particularly poor and like other areas in northern Australia, Arnhem Land received well below its average rainfall. With the poor wet season, the window for cool burning started early and finished early.
Given the large operational areas, the fire projects in Arnhem Land use aerial burning (incendiary pellets dropped from helicopters) during the early dry season to reduce fuel loads and establish a network of strategic burnt fire breaks across the landscape. A massive effort was undertaken within a few short months to create an intricate "spaghetti" of helicopter flight Lines covering more than 50,000 km. Importantly, extensive ground burning using matches and drip torches was used along road corridors, and to protect outstations, sensitive vegetation and cultural sites in the dry and windy conditions.
By August the hot, dry and windy conditions meant that fire management work switched towards managing wildfires. Many of the creeks, springs and rainforest jungles in Arnhem Land were very dry this year and unable to assist as natural firebreaks. Once lit, these wildfires quickly became hot, destructive and spread very fast. This year the ranger groups in Arnhem Land have been working extra hard to limit the destruction from these wildfires. The rangers use the early dry season fire scars in the landscape (the patchy coot fires burnt earlier in the year), natural landscape features and wildfire fighting tactics to stop these wildfires - its hard, hot work! Unfortunately, even now in December, the extreme fire weather conditions of 2019 are not over. The Bureau of Meteorology is still predicting that the end of the dry season will be both hotter and drier than average.
Fire management in Arnhem Land is a really big job and requires a lot of work from Aboriginal ranger groups and Traditional Landowners every year. All operations, including planning, consultation, early dry season burning, wildfire fighting and data recording are undertaken by Aboriginal people in Arnhem Land. As a result, the fire projects employ hundreds of full-time ranger positions as well as specialist consultant and casual work for Traditional Landowners. The scale of these fire operations are expensive and beyond the scope of 'business as usual' for Aboriginal ranger groups and Traditional Owners. Fortunately, the ranger groups are able to coordinate and undertake this important fire management work because it is funded through creating and selling Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs).
The Mimal Rangers care for 20,000 square kilometres of woodland forests, rocky areas and freshwater places in Central Arnhem Land that is Dalabon, Rembarrnga and Mayili Country. KKT partnered with Mimal Land Management late last year, to support the Mimal Rangers to implement key projects. We’re excited to be working with the community to achieve their aspirations for education in Bulman and Weemol, the largest communities on their Country.
Parents and Traditional Owners on Mimal Country in Central Arnhem Land dream of their children being educated locally, on their ancestral lands, within a system that respects both Indigenous and western knowledge. Today, this is not the case - the school is under-resourced and too small to access government support for a cultural learning program without outside help.
“We see both way education as very important to prepare our children for the future”
The Karrkad Kanjdji Trust is partnering with the Mimal Rangers and their community to bring Indigenous knowledge and culture into the classroom through a Learning on Country program.
The Mimal Rangers are seeking to employ a Learning on Country facilitator to work alongside Rangers and teachers to coordinate weekly cultural or land management activities for the students. By embedding local culture and land management into the curriculum, the Learning on Country program will encourage students to stay engaged with the education system, and help improve their literacy and numeracy skills.
Learning on Country programs are currently operating in a number of schools in Arnhem Land, but the Bulman and Weemol community is too small to qualify for full government support. However, if Mimal and KKT can get the program up and running, we’ll be able to unlock government funding to go towards this worthy program.
We’ve seen the difference bi-cultural education can make at the Nawarddeken Academy, and we want to see the next generation of Mimal Rangers and land custodians grow up strong in both Indigenous and mainstream knowledge. Please follow the link below to help get this program off the ground.
Documenting the Warddeken IPA’s rock art is no small task, but the Warddeken Rangers are now better prepared thanks to photographer David Hancock. In February, David spent two days helping the rangers improve their technical skills and learn the photography sequence for documenting rock art (kunwarddebim). Nawarddeken Academy senior students Natasha and Zekahlia were also able to join the workshop, and enjoyed spending time on country with the Daluk (women) Rangers. David’s tips for capturing art in hard-to-reach nooks and crannies (use a mini tripod!) will definitely come in handy as the team prepares to start a five-year program of kunwarddebim surveys later this year.
2019 is a milestone year for the Warddeken Mayh (Species) Monitoring Network project as the team resamples monitoring sites for the first time - all the monitoring enthusiasts out there will no doubt be as excited as we are by the prospect of comparable data sets! So far this year, rangers have set 150 monitoring cameras across 30 monitoring sites on six clan estates.
Aside from collecting valuable ecological data, landowners are enjoying spending time on country. Senior Daluk Rangers Elizabeth and Sarah last visited their remote Djordi estate as children, so it was a very special day when they flew out with ecologist Alys Stevens for Mayh monitoring. The team worked hard setting cameras in several habitats, including Allosyncarpia rainforest, where the ladies inspected rock paintings depicting the djabbo (Northern Quoll) which is now an endangered species. Through the Mayh Monitoring Network data, Warddeken Rangers have shown two small populations of djabbo are hanging on in the IPA - the team hope to give them a helping hand in the future with some targeted feral predator control, so fingers are crossed we see djabbo on our cameras this year!
The Nawarddeken Academy and Kabulwarnamyo community welcomed new teachers Julie Fraser and Amber Whittaker at the start of Term 1.
Julie is the new Senior Teacher at the Nawarddeken Academy. She has worked at schools in Ramingining, Maningrida, Gapuwiyak, Areyonga, Woorabinda and Darwin. She was a linguist teacher in Maningrida for three years, supporting Ndjebbana teachers to plan, deliver and assess children's learning across reading, writing, speaking and listening in the Ndjebbana language. Julie believes it is very important for children to learn from elders and parents on their country. The Kabulwarnamyo community is excited to have such an experienced teacher at the Academy.
Amber has taken on the role of Classroom Teacher. She spent time in remote communities, including Jabiru, growing up and was inspired to become a teacher while she was living at the Mapuru Homeland in East Arnhem Land. Amber spent the last three years teaching in South Australia and was excited by the opportunity to return to the Northern Territory and teach on-country in Kabulwarnamyo.
In their literacy classes, Nawarddeken Academy students have been working on personal reports and recounts. Here’s a personal report from Natasha:
Hello, my name is Natasha and I’m 13 years old turning 14. I come from Kabulwarnamyo which is a place located on the Arnhem Land Plateau. It is found 138 kilometres from Maningrida community in the Northern Territory. I’m a student in year 9 at Nawarddeken Academy. I like learning Literacy, Numeracy and Science.
I have knowledge of my culture and I speak four languages Kunwinjku , Gurrgoni, Burarra and Ndjebbana. My skin name is Kalidjan. Kunwinkju is my mother language, Gurrgoni is Father language, Ndjebbana is my [Makkah] Grandmother’s language and Burarra the language I learnt in Maningrida.
I live with my family, my two sisters Christella and Penelope, my dad Dean, my mum Serina, and my mum’s Sister Lorraine. Also my two cousins Reggina, Miles and Onenita, my niece. She’s 3 and a half she likes playing tips and playing on my phone. We have 2 Dogs 2 Roosters and 2 Chickens.
I love going fishing, hunting, swimming, playing sports like soccer, basketball, softball, football, baseball, and hockey.
Lorraine and Asheena had the opportunity to represent the Warddeken Daluk Rangers at the recent 2019 Savanna Fire Forum held at Charles Darwin University in February. This was the first event Asheena had attended as a Daluk Ranger outside of the Warddeken IPA. Asheena and Lorraine were able to meet other Daluk Rangers from right across the Top End as well as learn about different fire practices, information channels and new technology in relation to savanna fire regimes relevant to practices carried out within the IPA. At this event, the Arafura Swamp Rangers Aboriginal Corporation (ASRAC) extended an invite for a Daluk Ranger exchange this year. The Daluk Rangers will have the opportunity to visit the ASRAC Rangers in Ramingining, or alternatively, host them in Kabulwarnamyo to share their work, country and experiences as women rangers.
Women rangers are an integral part of any ranger work program and the movement is growing across the region of West, Central and East Arnhem Land. Over the coming years, the Karrkad Kanjdji Trust (KKT) will continue to support the growth of Warddeken’s Daluk Ranger Project and begin to strengthen and grow the Daluk Ranger Project with our newest partner, Mimal Land Management (Mimal).
Mimal, with the support of KKT is aiming to expand their Women’s Ranger Program through the continued employment of a dedicated Women’s ranger coordinator. From experience, we have seen the key to project growth is to have dedicated Project Coordinators who are able to drive the projects and manage staff.
Through the employment of a key operational staff member, the Women Rangers will:
- Be able to expand their program to establish a large-scale species monitoring and conservation project that will have tangible impacts on the health of the wider landscape.
- Increase their engagement with the local school (attended by roughly 70 students), by facilitating on-country learning opportunities to pass down traditional knowledge and showcase that being a ranger as a career path.
- Implement cool season burning as part of a large-scale carbon abatement project, to decrease the frequency and ferocity of wild late dry season fires.
- Record and preserve rock art
- Establish a bush tucker and medicine project.
- Share their work regionally and nationally through conferences and presentations
In order for these projects to make a significant impact on the community, we’re looking for key supporters who will be able to help our organisation grow so that we are able to best support the Indigenous aspirations of West and Central Arnhem Land into the future.
It is with great enthusiasm that we introduce Mimal Land Management Aboriginal Corporation (Mimal), our third Indigenous partner group. Mimal manages 20,000 square kilometres of central Arnhem Land comprising woodland forests, rocky country, freshwater places, and sites of great cultural significance.
Caring for country and culture is Mimal’s primary goal. Their highest priorities include fire management, controlling invasive weeds and feral animals, saving native species (especially those endemic to Arnhem Land), maintaining strong culture, and sustainable visitor management.
There are approximately 300 Indigenous members of Mimal, who control the management of the Corporation, through the election of the Corporation’s nine directors. Mimal is therefore more than just their members. Mimal is working for all Traditional Owners, for all clans and for all the people who live at Bulman, Weemol and Barrapunta (Emu Springs).
It is Mimal’s vision to see that;
- Their country is clean and safe, springs and creeks flow strong and clean, and there is plenty of bush tucker. So, that in the right season, they find plants and animals that have always been there.
- They have strong ceremony, language, dance and song connecting families, country and culture. Their families are happy again and people are sharing knowledge with younger generations who have two-way education about culture and country. Their rock art and cultural places are protected and they’re looking after the resting places of their ancestors.
- Businesses on country are successful, sustainable, and providing jobs for their people. Visitors and business partners respect traditional owners and their rules for protecting culture and country.
We would also like to introduce you to John Dalywater, Chair of the Mimal Land Management board. John has volunteered to join the KKT board as a director and has a wealth of knowledge to share with our team. Welcome, John!
The Karrkad Kanjdji Trust are proud to have partnered with Mimal and we look forward to supporting them to achieve their vision.
Warddeken rangers are now completing the second year of the ‘Species Recovery Project’ which aims to assess the extent of native animal loss in the area, and take steps to address it. We hope to see an abundance of key animals like the Northern Quoll, Black Wallaroo, White-throated Grasswren and the Northern Brown Bandicoot result from this long term project.
The species recovery work hinges on thorough and up to date information (on species richness and distribution), which is being collected using a custom designed ecological monitoring framework. In early 2018 the second year of baseline monitoring was conducted using camera traps set out over 60 strategically chosen sites, collecting over 800,000 images.
Since June, daluk (women) rangers have been working with ecologist Alys Stevens, to process these images. This involves identifying species and entering data into a purpose built database in Kunwinjku (local language) and English.
Though this year's analysis is not complete, some important species have already been found;
- Djebuyh (Northern Brushtail Possum) - featured
- Yok (Northern Brown Bandicoot)
- Djukerre (female Black Wallaroo)
- Dalkken (Dingo)
Once all 800,000 plus photos have been analysed, data will be combined with 2017 findings from an alternate 60 sites, and early stage analysis as well as trends can be detected. This information will inform the future of Warddeken’s land management activities, adapting fire, weed, and feral animal management to ensure the habitats for key species is protected and promoted.
This project not only aims to protect threatened, endemic and engaged species, but also promotes the use of Kunwinjku. Through the process of analysing photos, the wider community has become involved in recalling and recording the names and stories of species, information that was at risk of being lost.
The Nawarddeken Academy’s ‘Learning on Country’ program works hand in hand with the Australian curriculum. It provides students at the school an opportunity to learn about their cultural heritage from the Traditional Owners of the land to ensure that culture is not lost and is able to be incorporated in the students’ everyday life. Through this program the students gain a deep sense of pride for their Indigeneity and are empowered to share this knowledge with future generations to come.
As part of the ‘Learning on Country’ program an annual stone country bush walk is organised to encourage members from other communities to walk, learn, camp and hear stories from Traditional Owners. The rugged geography of the kuwarddewardde (stone country) means large tracts of the Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area are inaccessible by vehicle, so this walk is an important way for Bininj (Indigenous people) to renew their connections with the country.
Under the guidance of Professor Mary Kolkiwarra Nadjamerrek, younger rangers with students from the school plotted a route that would encompass significant occupation sites and rock art galleries as well as Djamarr, a sacred site and dwelling place of ngalyod (the rainbow serpent). During these planning workshops, Mary was able to provide information about each of the sites that weren’t known to the younger generations.
Warddeken Rangers picked up landowners from Gunbalanya, Maningrida, Manmoyi and Mamadawerre, to come together at Kabulwarnamyo and begin the walk. In total, 72 Bininj walked all or part of the route from Kurrukkurdduk to Nawarlbin, the largest group yet to participate in this annual event. More than half the participants were children and young people, many of whom were walking this country for the first time.
The feeling amongst walkers was that this was one of the most successful stone country walks to date, with landowners reconnecting with country, and younger generations of Bininj visiting unique places for the first time and learning knowledge of the kuwarddewardde.
It is estimated that there are over 30,000 rock art sites within the Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area (IPA), with only 5 per cent having been recorded so far. Warddeken Traditional Owners have articulated that the conservation of rock art is a key focus and priority for them to ensure that the art and accompanying stories are not lost.
Earlier this year a pilot project was implemented to test best-practice methodologies and train rangers on how to best document the art. Specific sites were chosen for the pilot based on the urgency of recording traditional knowledge from the individuals who are still alive and who are able to recall the locations of galleries and the stories associated with them.
The first phase of the pilot Rock Art Project has now been completed. During this initial stage 12 Daluk (women) Rangers from Manmoyi and Kabulwarnamyo took part in intensive field surveys to test and tweak the rock art site survey methodology that has been under development for the past 12 months.
As a result of the initial field surveys, 48 new art sites were documented within an area of less than 1.5 square kilometres. The initial survey data indicates that in extremely rocky country (such as where the surveys were run) the density of art sites may be greater than initially thought.
Rangers and Traditional Owners who are quite familiar with the area of country surveyed, were nevertheless shocked by the sheer number of art sites and paintings present when a comprehensive survey was undertaken. As the project progresses and more data is collected, it will become possible to make such forecasts with increasing accuracy.
As this project goes into the next phase, having a dedicated Project Officer is of greater importance. So, we would like to give a warm welcome to Claudia Cialone who joins Warddeken as the first Rock Art Project Officer, and is more than equipped to oversee the next stage of the project. Amongst her many skills, Claudia is a fluent Kunwinjku speaker, who later this year will submit her multidisciplinary PhD thesis based on field work she has undertaken within the Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area from 2015-17.
Claudia fully comprehends the vision of this project, and the imperative to ensure it remains driven by Bininj. Her ability to communicate with the rangers and elders in their first language will bring an entirely new depth of understanding to the project. Warddeken and KKT are very excited to welcome Claudia to the team.
It is with a mixture of sadness and joy that we wish to inform our committed supporters that we will be finishing our time as Warddeken employees in November. We are embarking on a new adventure as parents, and are handing our projects over to exceptional new staff members. Claudia Cialone will be the inaugural Rock Art Project Officer and Tom Griffiths will be the new Operations Manager. We have complete faith in their abilities as they are both qualified and enthusiastic about the work. We hope that you enjoy getting to know them.
Thank you to our supporters for believing in our projects, and for working with us to develop new and innovative approaches for Indigenous people to manage country and culture.
It has been our great honour and privilege for the last 12 years to work with Warddeken alongside our Bininj colleagues and family. We could not be prouder of the organisation and all it has achieved and we look forward to seeing projects grow with their new coordinators.
The KKT team wish Jake and Georgia the best in this new chapter of their life. We are sad to see them go, yet are pleased they will continue to stay on in an advisory role at Warddeken Land Management Limited.
Simplot Australia supports the sustainability of remote ranger bases by funding fortnightly food planes. This vital service delivers family grocery orders and staples purchased by rangers year round in an area where roads are cut off for months each year during the wet season.
Simplot, with the support of the Karrkad Kanjdji Trust, launched the ‘Indigenous Community Program - Simplot Ambassadors’ in July 2018, providing staff from around the country an opportunity to see the impact of their support first hand, and to share their experiences with their colleagues upon return.
Over three days the Ambassadors experienced a touch of life on a remote outstation, learning about the work Indigenous rangers are doing to look after their country and their culture. Highlights included visiting rock art sites with the Daluk Rangers, being taught to weave by community elders and exploring ancient Anbinik (Allosyncarpia ternata) forests.
Sophie has recently joined KKT in the new role of Grants Coordinator. She is a grant writer with extensive experience in the Australian conservation sector, and is excited about working with KKT’s partners to support their projects. We are very pleased to have Sophie join our team.
Get involved through our new crowdfunding campaign: Help empower Indigenous women to protect endangered species and manage one of the largest undocumented bodies of rock art in the world.
The Daluk (women) Rangers play an essential role in the implementation and data analysis of the Warddeken Species Recovery Project and the documentation and protection of approximately 30,000 rock art sites across the IPA which is thought to be the largest undocumented body of rock art in the world.
The Daluk Ranger program aims to steadily increase the proportion of total hours worked by women through the engagement of a Women’s Ranger Coordinator. The project has been highly successful to date and is an integral feature of Warddeken’s work program, which contributes to the overall health of the Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area.
In order to broaden the current Daluk Ranger Program, it is necessary to:
Employ a second qualified Daluk ranger coordinator to train and supervise Daluk rangers in Warddeken’s second ranger base at the community of Manmoyi.
Second, increase the overall wage budget for Indigenous rangers by up to three full-time positions, which will create capacity to engage up to 21 Indigenous Daluk rangers on a casual basis.
By Supporting the Daluk Rangers you will become part of a journey that will enable remote Indigenous communities to have a say about how their unique land, ecosystem and cultural heritage is cared for and protected.
Click here to donate and thank you in advance for your generous support!
To me, I’m very proud. So are the families, community, rangers, the company is so proud to have the school out there. It is a very big difference. Everyone wants their kids educated out in the bush. - Dean Yibarbuk, Senior Warddeken Mentor
In 2015, the Nawarddeken Academy was established at Kabulwarnamyo. It is a deep source of pride, and seen by the community as being critical to the future of Warddeken. In just over two years, the Academy has grown from a one-teacher school with eight students to to a multi-teacher school with three casual Aboriginal teaching assistants and 51 students (11 core primary students, 5 early learners and 35 seasonal students that visit the Academy, often to find refuge from the complications and difficulties of large Indigenous growth towns).
Significantly, all of this has been achieved through the generous support of philanthropists and Warddeken Land Management. In order to receive recurrent government funding in the future, the Academy has applied for Independent School Registration, which we are eagerly awaiting an outcome from this June.
This term, the Academy has enlisted the support of two very talented Warddeken Rangers who have skills in Music and IT. Elkana and Ray have been running regular sessions with students teaching them how to use the Apple Garageband application on the iPads to create music. The interactive whiteboard has served as an excellent group demonstration tool for students to learn how to navigate the application. Many students are now able to independently create their own soundtracks thanks to these amazing men. The use of music and song lyrics is an excellent gateway to both English and Kunwinjku literacy and music is a genuine career path for some of these students.
The Mayh Species Recovery program aims to develop a monitoring network that will evaluate the impact of Warddeken’s fire and feral management across the Indigenous Protected Area. The purpose of the project is to recover critically endangered small mammal populations by adapting the way that land is managed.
Daluk (women) Rangers from Kabulwarnamyo and Manmoyi ranger bases, as well as a number of Daluk Rangers currently based at Mamadawerre community, have continued to work closely with ecologist Alys Stevens on the second year of motion sensor camera deployments. This work is physically demanding, with rangers working 10 hour days to set-up, up to 30 cameras a day across a range of stone country habitats.
In January of this year, the Daluk completed their first round of data collection sequencing which is done completely electronically. Currently the program is in English, yet the next stage of the process will be to develop a version in Bininj Kunwok (local indigenous language). With the second phase of deployments to be completed by July, Daluk will play a key role in the analysis of photographic data through the months of July – September.
Gillian Galarminda has lived on and off at Kabulwarnamyo since she was a child. In 2018, at 18 years of age, Gillian became the newest recruit to our Daluk (women) Ranger program. Gillian has shown a keen interest in and aptitude for digital technologies, recently playing a major role in compiling geographic data for rock art sites within the Warddeken IPA. Gillian initially worked with coordinator Georgia Vallance, and then independently, to bring together disparate data sets of rock art site coordinates into one ‘master’ site list. This work included managing an excel spreadsheet and working in Google Earth to add individual points for every rock art site. Her work has lead to the first master rock art site list for the Warddeken IPA, and has improved our understanding of previous survey efforts as well as the distribution of art sites. We now know that the number of distinct recorded art sites in the IPA currently stands at 591 out of the approximately 30,000 sites that are believed to exist.
Nigel Gellar is a Rembarrnga man from Central Arnhem Land, who in 2002 assisted his dear friend Bardayal (Lofty) Nadjamerrek to return to the West Arnhem Plateau and establish the Kabulwarnamyo ranger base (now within the Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area). Nigel has worked to build Warddeken Land Management ever since and the company is stronger for his involvement. Nigel brought a depth of knowledge, traditional and western, to his position as Senior Ranger Coordinator, both in fire management and looking at the impact of feral cats and buffalo damage to freshwater systems.
Nigel’s passion has always been “showing young fellas how to do the job properly” and he has been an exemplary mentor to dozens of young rangers.
Nigel has recently retired but his humility, strength, humour and overwhelming contribution to land and cultural management make him a true Australian legend.
When we arrived in Kabulwarnamyo we got welcomed by all the locals. A young girl poured water over our head from the springs and told the old spirits and ancestors that we were just visitors and we would leave soon and respect everything properly. I called this our baptism. After this we had a 5 minute walk to get to the school (Nawarddeken Academy). We had a few hours at the school, in this time we had a cultural lesson about the skin names and groups the aboriginals use. It was very complex and I still do not understand it but it was still fun talking to them, and trying to figure it out. My skin name is ‘Kodjok’.
After this we went to see some rock paintings done by their ancestors. The first painting we saw was a kangaroo and somebody chasing the kangaroo, like it was hunting it. Lofty, the founder of the community was the painter of this drawing. We then went to a naturally “air conditioned” cave, extremely close to the kangaroo rock painting. After this we went to some more rock paintings. There were a lot of paintings there but my favourite was the one of the Tasmanian tiger, this shows that they have been here for a long time.
We then went to a really calm waterfall that had a lot of algae/slime in the bottom of it. We made good use of the algae by throwing it at each other and making some green hair on some people. After this we left the rest of the group and went to the visitors camp half an hour away from Kabulwarnamyo. Although, when we were about half way there it started raining. So we got to the camp and tried to start a fire. It was unsuccessful so, we packed up the tents and headed back to the original camp. We then camped underneath a Balabala, which is a really large tent.
The next morning, we went straight out to Manmoyi which was a 2 hour drive from Kabulwarnamyo. Manmoyi is the closest town from Kabulwarnamyo. When we were travelling we had to cross a river. We got stuck in this river and there was a lot of water coming into the 4WD. Luckily there was a tractor waiting there ready for us in case we got bogged. When we arrived to Manmoyi we went straight to the school. This school was not as advantaged as the first school we went to, it only had a teacher 2 days a week. On the other days it only had a member of staff to look after them. We then gave the kids some gifts and went to look at the rest of the village and the river.
The women at the office told us about how they were taking photos of the animals. They put secret photo cameras in the forest and whenever movement was spotted it would take a photo of it, they had around 500,000 photos (although most of them were nothing, it is still a lot of photos). They did spot some interesting animals though.
That afternoon we went all the way back to camp but we stopped twice. The first time we stopped to throw matches into the bush to burn some bad bush. I got to throw a lot of matches as well which was pretty cool as you can’t do THAT at home. The second time we stopped to go swimming in the river. It was an excellent river with the perfect temperature. After we got out, one of the rangers told us there were freshwater crocs in there. I’m not sure I would have gone swimming if I knew about them.
The next and final day of our time in Arnhem Land we went and said one last goodbye to the school and the rest of the village. We started by going to the school and giving them some more gifts. After this I got given a buffalo skull by the lead male ranger, Jake. It was a magnificent skull as the buffalo's horns were curved which was probably a 1 in a million skull. After this we left from Darwin and said goodbye to Bjorn and Nina and flew off in the plane.
After this wonderful experience I learnt many things, but the biggest lesson was to be grateful of how lucky I am. It’s just the little things that matter. I get an extraordinary education and these guys have a decent education considering it’s in Arnhem Land. The little things like water and a brick house and not just tents under a balabalas. Internet, a mobile phone, all these things are the little extra things that make life easier. These people seem extremely happy, even without all these modern conveniences that I take for granted everyday…
The first week of May marked a very special occasion for Bawinanga Rangers.
More than 50 landholders from across the Djelk IPA came together on Bolkjam Homelands, to contribute to the development of our first Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) Steering Committee.
The IPA committee will provide a much needed platform for senior landholders and Djungkay from across the 12 language groups, to come together and set direction on land and sea management activities in the IPA.
This is a significant step forward for rangers and Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation to ensure the knowledge and expertise of landholders and Djungkay across the IPA is captured and valued, needs of people on homelands are being heard and addressed and communication pathways are improved.
Many people in our community volunteered their time and worked tirelessly prior and during this event. I would like to thank everyone who supported us and contributed to its timely success. Without community support, this meeting would not have been possible.
A special acknowledgement to our facilitator Ian Munro and guest speakers Jen Ansell and Mark Desailly who supported on short notice, to Kelly Cooper and his CDP team for spending two days clearing land at Bolkjam, Michelle Culpitt and the Arts and Culture team for their ongoing guidance, Natalie Carey from the Maningrida School and Shane Bailey from Learning on Country who supplied the majority of the equipment and assisted with the running of the day and to the staff at Barlmarrk who went above and beyond to support with catering needs.
Last but not least thank you to the rangers and my senior team who have worked very hard to pull this meeting together.
We are now in the process of developing the committee governance structure and will aim to bring nominated delegates together in 2 weeks to begin the discussions on land and sea management activities.
Congratulations to all who were involved and a big thank you for your support.
Learning on Country and the Bawinanga Djelk Rangers are proud to announce the probationary full-time employment of Interns Dioni Brian and Normalina Olsen (front row of above image) to the Djelk team. They join Rickisha Redford Bohme and Jonah Ryan (back row) as the newest recruits to the Rangers.
These four ex-students completed their Certificate II in Conservation and Land Management last year and entered the Djelk Ranger Internship program.
Last week the Maningrida Community celebrated the Year 12 NTCET Graduation of these very students and this week they are part of the ‘Caring for Country’ workforce.
Learning on Country is about developing not only the next generation of Rangers but the future leaders of this Community, educated in a two way learning system and able to walk strong in both the Bininj and Balanda worlds.
Finally, may the new recruits stand proud of their achievements and reap the benefits of their success. We wish them all the best for the future.
Mimal Land Management is focused on bringing benefits to country and culture for the Dalabon, Rembarrnga and Mayili landowners and people in south central Arnhem Land.
The Mimal Land Management (MLM) area sits at the geographic centre of Arnhem Land, about 250 km east from Katherine. It covers an area that’s nearly as big as Kakadu National Park.
The main communities and homelands in the area include Bulman, Weemol and Barrapunta (Emu Springs). About 300 people reside in Bulman and Weemol, which is located 312km northeast of Katherine on the Central Arnhem Highway.
Following the growth of fire emissions abatement projects, our landowners saw the opportunity to secure autonomy for our ranger group.
The first major step was incorporation in April 2015, followed by a gradual transition of the Mimal rangers from Northern Land Council to operating wholly with Mimal Land Management.
With the transfer of Working on Country contracts to Mimal, the transition is complete and cause to pause and celebrate.
MLM have had a long journey to independence since the inception of Mimal Rangers almost 20 years ago. On Wednesday October 25, 2017, MLM celebrated a new chapter as a group, gaining control over their own land and working towards a clear vision for their people, country and culture.
It is with great excitement, we share with you that Stacey Irving, our Director of Development was awarded as the ‘Young Fundraiser of the Year 2018’ by the Fundraising Institute of Australia. This award recognises her 10 years of fundraising, starting with founding a small social non-profit and asking her friends to donate, to specialising in major gift fundraising for large scale conservation projects. As part of her prize she went to New Orleans to attend the International Fundraising Conference, to learn from some of the greatest fundraisers in the world. Stacey works tirelessly for the projects we support and we’re very fortunate she is part of the KKT team.
Nina Davis joined the KKT team in January of this year. She has worked in education as a primary school teacher and technology innovator over the past six years. Recently Nina entered this enriching new environment as she takes on the role of Support Officer for the Karrkad Kanjdji Trust. She is working towards a Masters in Aboriginal Studies at the University of South Australia, which will bring a whole new perspective to her work.
It has been just over two years since the Nawarddeken Academy opened and we are proud to report that the school is now established as an independent entity, with a standalone board and the full set of operating arrangements expected of a fully-fledged independent school.
We are immensely proud to say that the Academy has now submitted its independent school registration application which is a major milestone.
Starting with only eight students and one teacher, the Academy has quickly grown and now has;
— one permanent full-time teacher and one full time executive officer
— a part time teacher
— three casual Indigenous teaching assistants and
— a growing number of students (15 primary and 5 early childhood).
The school board held their second meeting in October. The meeting demonstrated the strong partnership between Indigenous and non-Indigenous directors and employees, all highly committed to the organisation's vision of providing exceptional and cultural relevant education to children across West Arnhem Land. Whilst the Academy is a wholly owned subsidiary of Warddeken and led by several Indigenous directors and community elders, they have chosen to appoint four non-Indigenous expert directors who include Leonie Jones (a former remote school principal who is well respected by the Department of Education), David Arthur (Treasurer for the Association of Independent Schools, NT), Richard Tudor (former principal of Trinity Grammar, founder of the Melbourne Indigenous Transition School and former chair of the Nawarddeken Academy Steering Committee) and Margie Moroney (Director of the Karrkad Kanjdji Trust, former Steering Committee member and founding supporter of the Nawarddeken Academy). KKT Chairman Justin Punch, director Fred Hunter and CEO Bjorn Everts also attended the meeting, reflecting KKT’s ongoing and close partnership with this vital project.
During the meeting it was decided that an extensive round of community consultations take place to inform the way that the Nawarddeken Academy executes its vision over the next three to five years. We intend to bring the resulting plans to supporters in the new year. We're thrilled to continue to be a part of this journey.
For the first time, this term, Early Learning educators participated in early childhood training with a qualified early childhood trainer in Kabulwarnamyo. Nina Zepnick worked collaboratively with the Nawarddeken Early Learning Program (NELP) staff and students for a two week period which gave the teachers a chance to reflect on their current teaching practices and plan engaging activities for their students. It has been wonderful to see that the training has inspired the NELP educators to further develop their skills in early childhood education and they are now better able to involve families in the learning process with their children.
In addition to this training in Kabulwarnamyo, there is an opportunity for the NELP educators to attend the Department of Education’s Abecedarian training in Jabiru to further extend their professional development. This will play a vital role towards ensuring that appropriate and high quality early learning education is delivered in Kabulwarnamyo.
With the school now completing its startup phase of operations, planning is currently underway for its next phase of growth and development. Educational needs in the region are significant, and the school’s board, Warddeken Land Management Limited (WLML) and KKT are focussed on how best to expand to meet these needs.
Together we share the hope and vision that the ongoing success of Nawarddeken Academy might provide a template for the improvement of remote Indigenous education across the region and possibly Australia-wide.
It is with great pleasure that we introduce the newest member of the KKT team, Stacey Irving.
Stacey is a philanthropy and development specialist, who works with individuals, trusts, and foundations to connect their generosity to work that is meaningful and impactful.
Stacey comes to KKT keen to deepen her understanding of bininj (Indigenous peoples) connection to country. It is her hope that with KKT she can support the growth and breadth of Indigenous-lead cultural and environmental projects across Arnhem Land.
Stacey has completed an undergraduate degree in International Development, and a Master of International Urban and Environmental Management, which included a focus on Indigenous land management.
Stacey has 10 years experience working in the non-profit sector. She most recently focused on leading the major gifts program at Bush Heritage Australia, along with voluntarily running a community arts based non-profit called Creative Spark. Stacey will be an invaluable addition to our team.
The Warddeken Women’s Ranger Project continue to receive positive media coverage for the extensive work the women's rangers are doing to not only close the gender gap but to empower other Indigenous women to engage in the workforce in their respective communities. The project, funded by KKT with generous support from the Jibb Foundation and the Klein Foundation commenced in 2017 with the recruitment of Georgia Vallance as women’s ranger coordinator.
Click here to read an excerpt or purchase the full article from RM Williams ‘OUTBACK’ magazine.
Believed to be a world-first in using fire to create carbon credits, the Warddeken Rangers are using traditional fire management techniques combined with new technology to protect the landscape. Kabulwarnamyo is the main outstation in the Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area, a nine-hour drive from Darwin through difficult terrain. It is the birthplace of the West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement project. There are now 80 projects across Northern Australia using this same methodology, producing great results for the land.
In 2016 alone, Arnhem Land projects produced 830,000 tonnes of carbon abatement. The funds from this work will be reinvested into the land management and cultural heritage work conducted across Arnhem Land.
Throughout this process, traditional owners are consulted about which are the best areas to burn in the early dry season to help reduce the risk of large scale, uncontrolled fires later in the season. Having traditional owners guide this project not only provides critical Indigenous knowledge that is needed for its success but ensures they stay connected to their spiritual obligations to the land.
Click here to read the ABC article on the Warddeken Ranger fire management program.
Earlier this year the Mayh Threatened Species Recovery Project deployed arrays of rugged camera traps at 60 biodiversity monitoring sites across the 14,000 square kilometres of the Warddeken IPA. The Warddeken Daluk (women’s) Rangers have now analysed more the 475,000 images from the first round of remote camera surveys. This produced impressive results with 28 of a possible 33 mammal species expected to be recorded detected with the most exciting captures being the critically endangered (NT) djabbo, Northern Quoll and endangered bakkadjdji, Black-footed Tree-rat.
Warddeken Rangers invested more than 500 hours into this work, including the development of targeted reporting for each clan estate surveyed. By generating species distribution models from real records, the monitoring will not only reveal where species are present, but also allow us to predict where else they may occur in the IPA.
As this project continues, there will be an additional 60 sites surveyed in 2018, with arrays of motion sensing cameras deployed to be able to collect more in depth data on these animals as well as a new database to make recording their sightings far more efficient. This is an exciting, capacity building project for the women rangers of Warddeken who are developing and using cutting-edge science and technology rather than relying on the intervention of Western experts.
Bjorn Everts, CEO of KKT will be travelling to Melbourne to facilitate the Simplot ambassador program. Through this program a delegation of Simplot staff will be flown to the Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area to experience first hand the meaningful role that Simplot play for Warddeken Rangers in the IPA. Staff will be taken on one of the fortnightly air charter services that deliver food and supplies to the remote communities of Kabulwarnamyo and Manmoyi. Simplot’s support of this critical supply line enables Warddeken rangers to be permanently based in these communities and our thanks go to them for this vital contribution.
Another exciting research project that KKT has facilitated is the management of feral pigs, cattle and buffalo in the Djelk IPA. The project, run by CSIRO scientist Justin Perry, aims to further develop technology that will assist Indigenous groups, to reduce the serious environmental impacts caused by these animals. Previously, it has been difficult to track and control these animals due to inaccessibility, significant cost and technical challenges. With the guidance of CSIRO and new tracking device technologies developed by JCU, there are new developments in how this tracking can take place.
The project aims to track the movements of these animals in real time (hourly), so their habits can be predicted, and this data will then be used to manage the species. “The primary on-ground benefits will be to help save the marine turtles, through reducing egg predation, and to restore extensive wetlands (and associated biodiversity and carbon-capture) benefits that are currently being destroyed.” Justin Perry.
The project will be in partnership with three Indigenous land management organisations, so a strategic management plan can be put in place to suit a variety of community needs as well as open up new employment opportunities for Indigenous groups, including carbon capture and environmental management activities.