Dharrawal-Yuin Ngurra, the Good Fire video showcase
Eighteen months after the 2018 National Indigenous Fire Workshop at Bundanon, devastating wildfires tore through the Shoalhaven, destroying 80% of the Country.
Members of the Mudjingaalbaraga Firesticks team – Uncle Nook (Noel Webster), a Yuin Walbanja saltwater man, as well as Joel and Adrian – revisited Bundanon to show the difference between Country that had Cultural Fire applied in 2018, with Country destroyed by wildfire in 2020.
Joel reflected on the stark differences between the western fire practices and Cultural Fire practice that were being shown in the landscape.
Hands stained red from the sap of burnt bloodwood trees, Uncle Nook exclaimed “we have blood on our hands…but it is through this pain that we can learn and look after Country,” he said.
Observing the changes that have been taking place in the soils and invasive species, Nook talked about going back to the old ways to rebalance the landscape.
Adrian explained the way the wildfire had disturbed the balance of plant species, with too many plants that don’t belong to Sand Ridge Country popping up after the wildfire. Cultural Fire can be a way to rebalance this landscape, he explained.
“What we have to do now is come back…we can’t wait years or months…we have to get in now and burn [these young invasive plants] straight away..if we keep ignoring Country we’re going to lose all our diversity and everything is going to be overrun with weeds and invasive natives…the only reason why this [wildifre] happened is because our practices have been stopped for the last 200 years,” he said.
A few steps away, the landscape that was treated with Cultural Fire in 2018 is thriving, said Joel.
“The grasses are getting greener and there’s more grasses popping up. But we’ve got a lot more work to do,” he said.
Ensuring western fire science works together with Indigenous fire knowledge is crucial, said Uncle Nook, in order to create a knowledge system that understands not only what constitutes a healthy environment, but also the value that it provides to the wider communities.
Firesticks Alliance, Mulong Productions, and Cape York Natural Resource Management, along with our fantastic hosts Mudjingaalbaraga Firesticks Team and Bundanon Trust, would like to extend our sincere thanks and gratitude to the many people who contributed to the 2018 National Indigenous Fire Workshop.
We would also like to thank and acknowledge our partners and sponsors, whose strong support helped ensure that the 2018 Workshop was such a successful event.