New partnership ignites tradition
Aboriginal traditional burning is now part of Wimmera Fire District’s planned burning program under a Forest Fire Management Victoria and Barengi Gadjin Land Council partnership.
Forest Fire Management Victoria Wimmera district manager Glenn Rudolph said a Walpa Dyurrita cultural burn at Centenary Park Campground at the base of Mt Arapiles in Mt Arapiles-tooan State Park was part of the partnership.
“One of the most exciting aspects of the burn was that it was initiated, planned and delivered by traditional owner staff, led by Parks Victoria’s Damien Skurrie,” he said.
“We are fortunate we have several Wotjobaluk people with extensive experience in contemporary fire management, who combine current and traditional fire knowledge to inform our traditional burning practices.
“It is fantastic the crew lighting the burn were traditional owner staff from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Parks Victoria and two Barengi Gadjin staff, watched over by Wotjobaluk Elders.”
Mr Rudolph said the work marked the return of thousands of years of Aboriginal land-management practices.
“We are proud and privileged to have been part of this event,” he said.
Barengi Gadjin chief executive Michael Stewart supported the return of traditional burning in a partnership approach.
“For thousands of years Wotjobaluk people successfully managed this country and fire was integral to that effort,” he said.
“This burn marks a fundamental step in the restoration of our country; fire is about health of country and of people.
“Seeing smoke from traditional burns rising is a powerful and healing sign for everyone, Aboriginal and non-aboriginal people alike.”
Natimuk bush kindergarten children also participated in the day with a firestick briefing with traditional owners before the burn.