Young scholarship winners head to Queensland fire workshop
TRADITIONAL burning methods were featured at the recent National Indigenous Fire Workshop at Melsonby in far north Queensland.
These workshops are attracting widespread i nterest t hroughout Australia.
The Mountain Cattlemen’s Association of Victoria (MCAV) supported the workshop by awarding scholarships to Meg Coleman from Heyfield and Bryce Lovick from Merrijig to attend.
The MCAV believe t hat t he younger generation need to observe and learn the traditional burning methods, so they can continue the traditions learned by early cattlemen.
The workshop was also attended by t wo senior figures from t he MCAV: Geoff Burrowes from Merrijig and Chris Commins from Ensay.
The principle presenter was Australia’s leading Indigenous fire practitioner from north Queensland, Victor Steffensen.
Two years ago, contact was made with Victor by the MCAV following an SBS Insight program titled In the Line of Fire.
In that program Victor promoted the need for the return to traditional burning methods, a practice still largely used in northern Australia.
President of the MCAV Graeme Stoney said this week that the mountain cattlemen support the emerging traditional burning movement in south eastern Australia because early cattlemen burnt their runs by following the example and methods of the Aborigines.
He explained that the cool burning of the cattlemen’s runs was stopped by the authorities due to pressure from misguided environmental groups.
Mr Stoney said that the cattlemen have pointed out for many years that the bush is choked with undergrowth, has high fuel loads and is not being managed properly by the authorities.
“The burning techniques practised by the Aboriginal people and copied by the early cattlemen kept the bush open, ensured that the big trees dominated, encouraged grass and the undesirable undergrowth was supressed by low intensity fire,” Mr Stoney said.
“This provided a healthy, safe environment for flora, fauna and people.
“The MCAV has been puzzled and disappointed for many years as to why environmental groups claiming to protect the environment did not support this basic technique based on cool fire, which suits the management of t he Australian bush.
“For years these groups have dis- missed traditional burning methods, be it Aboriginal or European and they have much to answer for.
“Thousands of years of firestick management cannot any longer be ignored or dismissed,” Mr Stoney concluded.
The Queensland workshop was attended by people from all over Australia and the two scholarship winners say it was an experience like no other.
ON FIRE: Mountain Cattlemen’s Association of Victoria (MCAV) scholarship winners Meg Coleman and Bryce Lovick being interviewed in Queensland at the recent National Indigenous Fire Workshop.