Engaging Traditional Owners

Last updated: Thursday 19 May, 2016
Bush Heritage's Aboriginal partners

Traditional Owner groups engaged with our work.

We recognise and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's ownership, rights and enduring relationship with their lands and waters, acknowledging that it's the lands, winds and waters of the first Australians that we all share today.

We work in partnerships with Aboriginal groups to help plan and deliver conservation outcomes on their lands. In addition, whenever we buy or manage a property it's our policy to seek to engage Traditional Owners to ensure access, share knowledge about land management and to learn more about cultural values and sites that may be present.

Below are some of the groups we work on our reserves.

When we're working together with the rangers, Elders and community on country it's a really great experience learning together. It's so inspiring to see the pride the rangers have in protecting their country.

- Sarah Eccles is our Indigenous Partnership Officer for South Eastern Australia and descendent of Wathaurung people from the coastal country, west of Port Phillip Bay, Victoria.

Adnyamathanha people

Boolcoomatta (SA)

Nantawarrina IPA rangers during a healthy country planning workshop.Nantawarrina IPA rangers during a healthy country planning workshop. Photo Karen Moore.

Yarta Warndu Ngarlapurla Nguthandha (Our Community Caring for Good Country)

The Adnyamathanha people are the Traditional Owners of land extending from the far north Flinders Ranges in South Australia to Boolcoomatta Station Reserve near Broken Hill. In 1998 the Nantawarrina Indigenous Protected Area, which covers 58,000 hectares, was the first IPA to be declared in the country. The Adnyamathanha peoples' vision and leadership has inspired many other groups to establish IPAs.

More on our work with the Adnyamathanha people.

Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara people

Bon Bon (SA)

Some of Bush Heritage's many Indigenous partnershipsAntakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara on-country vistit to Bon Bon. Photo by Julia Harris

The Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara Traditional Owners' country includes our Bon Bon Station Reserve.

We're working together to survey and protect culturally significant places on Bon Bon and to develop an Indigenous Land Use Agreement. This will set out the ongoing relationship between us, how we work together in managing country, and how Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara people will exercise their native title rights.

More on our work with the Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara.

Bidjara people

Carnarvon (Qld)

Carnarvon ReserveCarnarvon Station Reserve - Bidjara country.

In 2004, the Bidjara people returned to the spectacular gorges of Carnarvon Reserve, in central Queensland, for the first time in decades.

Before we purchased the property, the Bidjara had been denied access to this part of their traditional lands. The Bidjara reconnected with many special places that carry the stories of their ancestors who had cared for the land before them. The Bidjara shared those places with Bush Heritage staff.

“There were caves with rock art, etchings, engravings and ochre pits ranging from deep purple to crimson red,” says Sarah Eccles, our Indigenous Policy and Programs Advisor.

With the help of our supporters, we began working together to look after this special land. They built fences to stop feral horses damaging sites and eating the ochre (a pigment used as body paint by Bidjara dancers).

They also introduced guidelines to help visitors reduce their impact on traditional lands and help protect the vulnerable animals that live there, like Australian bustards.

Badimaya people

Charles Darwin Reserve (WA)

Ashley Bell talking about Badimaya culture to young people on Charles Darwin Reserve.Ashley Bell talking about Badimaya culture to young people on Charles Darwin Reserve.

Bush Heritage's Charles Darwin Reserve is within the traditional lands of the Badimaya people. Ninghan Station, which adjoins Charles Darwin to the south, is owned and managed by the Bell family and the Pindiddy Aboriginal Corporation. In 2004 they successfully nominated 480 square kilometres of the station as an Indigenous Protected Area, which they manage for nature conservation.

Bush Heritage works closely with the Bell family as we pursue our shared vision for protecting the spirit of the land. We're coordinating our feral animal management efforts with theirs, and have begun collaborating with fire control work, and with planning and establishing ecological monitoring projects. More:

We want to see a continuing relationship with this land and look after it.

- Leah Bell (Ninghan IPA)

Budjiti people

Naree Station (NSW)

The Budjiti are the Traditional Owners of Bush Heritage's Naree Station on the Cuttaburra Creek north-west of Bourke, and have close personal connections to the property. Since our purchase of Naree, Budjiti elder Phil Eulo and his family have been helping us understand the property's history, natural values and cultural connections. They've helped with our environmental and heritage assessments and with our conservation planning. We're tremendously pleased to have the Budjiti so intimately involved in our conservation work on Naree.

Bush Heritage is doing what we wanted to do all along – keep our country natural. Now we've got the opportunity to bring this back to its natural state ... for the new generations, white and black.

Phil Eulo on SBS program Living Black:

The protected woodlands of Nardoo Hills Reserves. Photo: Wayne Lawler/Ecopix.The protected woodlands of Nardoo Hills. Photo: Wayne Lawler/Ecopix.

Dja Dja Wurrung people

Nardoo Hills (Vic)

Nardoo Hills Reserve in Central Victoria is part of the traditional lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung.

In 2013 Bush Heritage staff joined Traditional Owners employed by Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises Pty Ltd to undertake a cultural asset mapping and management project. It revealed some important cultural values on Nardoo, including artefacts like cutting instruments and clay cooking balls. Scar trees, the bark of which was used for ceremonial purposes and for carrying food, were also found.

Recommendations for the protection of these important cultural values have been integrated into the Nardoo Hills management plan and we look forward to working with Dja Dja Wurrung Traditional Owners in managing them.

When I walk around this place, I feel connected to my country and people.

- Boadan Kerr, Traditional Owner and Ranger with Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises Pty Ltd

Noongar Elder Eugene Eades on Peniup Creek. Photo: David Guilfoyle.Noongar Elder Eugene Eades on Peniup Creek. Photo: David Guilfoyle.

Noongar people

Gondwana Link (WA)

Noongar traditional lands extend across the Gondwana Link properties in Western Australia, including Chereninup Creek Reserve. Elders have been involved in cultural heritage assessments as part of a broader regional project called the Linkage Project. 

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Leave a lasting legacy
Leave a legacy