Yellomundee Regional Park protects an area of bushland along an Eastern section of the Blue Mountains escarpment and regionally significant alluvial vegetation communities adjacent to the Nepean River. It contains threatened ecological communities, threatened species and their habitats.

The Park includes a section of Shaws Creek which holds a significant record of occupation by the Darug people. Due to the cultural richness of the area, visitors are very likely to come across artefacts, shelters / occupation sites. The Shaws Farm precinct also contains structures illustrating past European land use.

This site is heavily impacted by introduced pest weeds and animals with extensive bush regeneration works by local volunteers taking place over the past number of years. Yellomundee is also associated with Bell Minor Associated Dieback (BMAD).

A Yellomundee Firesticks Workshop was held on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 June 2014 to lead local Aboriginal people, bushcare volunteers and other participants in the use of Cultural Fire to this highly degraded site. A main objective of the Yellomundee Workshop was to create a ‘Case Study’ using Cultural Fire in selected trial plots containing long term infestation of environmental weeds including Lantana and African Lovegrass. Piles of previously weeded Lantana were spread and burnt to clear excess biomass and stimulate native seed response. These sites will be monitored to witness regrowth while referencing control sites where just bush regeneration is used and also against areas that have no management thus far.

We were Welcomed to Country by the Darug People with a smoking ceremony. We Acknowledge Country and pay our Respect to Elders past and present. This workshop was led by Victor Steffensen, the director of Mulong Pty Ltd and Living Knowledge Place. 45 participants attended the weekend.

Yellomundee Firesticks is a voluntary program based on Traditional Aboriginal Cultural Practice that is intended to complement the work of Yellomundee Bushcare and other contemporary Land Management practices using Culturally Prescribed Fire. Funding for the initial Firesticks workshop and launching of Yellomundee Firesticks was provided by Greater Sydney Local Land Services through Merana Aboriginal Community Association as the applicant.

Yellomundee Firesticks acknowledge the work of Yellomundee Bushcare which is a voluntary bush regeneration program that has been operating in Yellomundee Regional Park for a number of years now. We acknowledge the work of Merana Aboriginal Community Association from which Yellomundee Bushcare was created.

We also acknowledge the work of Muru Mittigar, Willow Warriors, Bass Fisho’s & Deerubbin LALC who have also been involved in bush regeneration works on this site.

This workshop was seen as an opportunity to create a ‘case study’ to address a number of environmental threats, raise awareness of and sharing of Aboriginal culture and to meet Aboriginal community aspirations.

From this workshop, Yellomundee Firesticks was created!

The following letter of thanks from the Yellomundee Firestick Workshop Project Manager and Coordinator was addressed to participants in the Workshop:

Hello to all Yellomundee Firesticks,

Both Paul Glass and I would once again like to convey our thanks to everyone who attended as participants and observers to the Yellomundee Firesticks Workshop over the weekend.

I hope that you all agree that the weekend was thoroughly enjoyable and that so much was learnt and achieved.

Thanks to the Darug people for hosting this event and all of us on Country. Thanks to Uncle Lex for ceremony.

Thanks to Uncle Victor Steffensen for sharing knowledge and culture, Oliver, Nature Conservation Council, UTS and everyone else associated with the Firesticks movement. The workshop would not have happened without your initiative.

I’ll leave the rest of this message of thanks in sharing with you my e-mail to the NSW NPWS Area Manager for the Hawkesbury of Blue Mountains Region below:

‘Dear Glenn,

Further to my phone call with you earlier today.

On behalf of Paul Glass and I, we wish to formally express our thanks to you and Hawkesbury Area for your support in allowing the Yellomundee Firesticks Workshop to take place on Park at Yellomundee Regional Park. This was an Aboriginal Cultural workshop and event that saw participants actively engaging in cultural practice, knowledge transfer and practical application of Cultural Fire on National Park estate.

To my knowledge, this is unprecedented in Blue Mountains Region and perhaps within the Branch and beyond. I am happy to report that by all accounts, the weekend was a huge success.

This workshop was held primarily to address a number of environmental impacts, knowledge exchange, raise awareness of and sharing of Aboriginal culture and to meet Aboriginal community aspirations and cultural obligations in caring for Country.

Yellomundee through Firesticks is now a ‘case study’ for the effects of cultural fire on invasive weed species that include Lantana (Lantana camara), African Lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula), pitchfork, (Bidens pilosa). We acknowledge the tireless work of the Yellomundee Bushcare and Muru Mittigar which allowed physical access to Country and application of fire to previously cut and treated lantana.

Another aspect of this case study will be to monitor the response of the Bell Minor and the Associated Dieback (BMAD) within Yellomundee Regional Park to the cultural fire.

There were 45 registered participants and observers in attendance over the weekend including children and teenagers which is a vital element in transferring cultural knowledge. This group comprised of Darug, Gundugurra, Darkinjung, Wiradjuri, Kamilaroi, Bundjalung, Dunghutti and other Aboriginal people, non Aboriginal people and families, Yellomundee Bushcare volunteers (Willow warriors and Bass Fishos), Merana Aboriginal Community Association, Greater Sydney Local Land Services staff (Funding Provider), Muru Mittigar representatives, Representatives of Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning University of Technology Sydney, University students and representatives and local Yarramundi residents and property owners.

This workshop would also not have been possible without NPWS Staff and volunteers from Hawkesbury and Upper Mountains Areas.

It is imperative that ongoing treatments of cultural fire are applied to the case study plots and surrounding areas in order to address the weed infestation and see the revival of native vegetation and associated biodiversity.

Our conversation and this e-mail is not enough to express what was achieved on so many levels at Yarramundi over the weekend. I will leave that for the participants to share and Country to show over time. All participants of the workshop are now inductees of Yellomundee Firesticks which we welcome everyone interested to join.

Once again, our sincere gratitude in your foresight and support and we look forward to a continued successful working relationship with Hawkesbury Area and in seeing Yellomundee Regional Park transform in the years ahead.

Paul and I would be happy to share this story and outcomes of the workshop with any audience interested.

Den Barber & Paul Glass’