The people who loved Naree

Friday 21 December, 2012

Naree Station has found a place in the hearts of many who have helped to protect its wetlands and woodlands.

Phil EulaPhil Eulo, Budjiti elder and traditional owner representative. Photo: Bernard Eulo

Here, a traditional owner, a scientist and Naree's former owners talk about what Naree means to them.

Phil Eulo, Budjiti elder and representative

"This water is the lifeblood of our people," says Phil, who has lived off the land around Naree all of his life. "I catch fish by hand, just take what I need to eat. It's the old way of doing things, to respect the land. If you don't look after this land and water then they won't look after you."

For Phil and the Budjiti people, the area's traditional owners, you can't put a price on the wetlands of Naree. Not only are they of significant cultural and spiritual value, they're also an ecological dream come true.

With the Yantabulla Swamp at one end and the Warrego River floodplains at the other, Naree is home to tens of thousands of waterbirds and many threatened and endangered species like the Major Mitchell's cockatoo and the kultarr, a small, carnivorous marsupial.

"It means a lot to us, that country out there," Phil says, reminiscing about his childhood camping along the creeks with his grandmother. "The land's just beautiful when it rains - the trees, the flowers, the sky - it really shows its colour after a good season. Every chance I get, I still go out there with a swag and camp along the river."

Richard KingsfordRichard Kingsford, University of NSW. Photo courtesy of Richard Kingsford

Professor Richard Kingsford, University of NSW

Professor Kingsford is an ornithologist (bird specialist), river ecologist and conservation biologist who has studied waterbirds and wetlands all over the world. Naree Station is one of his great passions.

"Wetlands like these are few and far between," explains Richard. "They're scattered like jewels across the continent. Yantabulla Swamp is undoubtedly one of the Murray-Darling's, and even Australia's, more important wetland systems because of its size and its colonies of waterbirds - ibis, herons and cormorants. They're just spectacular."

Paul KaluderPaul Kaluder, previous owner. Photo: Peter Morris

Naree Station incorporates the critical upstream section of Yantabulla Swamp. Richard has worked on Naree since 1986, studying waterbirds and recording the affects the floods have on their populations. His work here has given him a rare glimpse into a huge variety of birds, like pink-eared ducks, grey teal, pelicans, egrets and brolgas.

"There's always so much happening, particularly when the birds are breeding," he says. "They bring food in from the large wetland to feed their chicks. It makes it a really exciting place to work in."

Debbie and Paul Kaluder, previous owners

"Selling to Bush Heritage, with their values, and the way they look after their land is something we're delighted with. It's a good thing to see something you've nurtured go to someone who will carry it on, maybe do it better, probably do it better."

"Naree is a special property. It is unique. The wetlands that are here, you won't find in many places."

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