Smoke from the small campfire swirled in the light winds as the Badimia Bandi Barna Aboriginal Corporation (BBBAC) Directors arrived at Charles Darwin Reserve. Greeted by Will Hansen, the Reserve Manager, and his family, welcomed and acknowledged the Badimia community representatives with a cuppa tea and a yarn.
Like the smoke, stories swirled amongst the group about country, family and life.
Bush Heritage staff and BBBAC’s directors gathered together in the shearing shed to discuss current and planned activities on Charles Darwin Reserve, Badimia aspirations and cultural heritage site management on the reserve.
Carol Dowling, BBBAC’s Chair, spoke of the group's enthusiasm for working in partnership with Bush Heritage in protecting country and culture by providing support and opportunities for training, cultural and conservation activities – particularly for their youth. We believe this partnership is profoundly important and will result in long-lasting benefits for Country.
Later that evening we enjoyed a delicious home-cooked meal and gathered by the campfire under the stars to yarn more about our shared values and responsibly to care for Country. With bellies full, and smiles alike, we slept to the sound of wind and scurrying geckos chasing a night-time feed.
The following morning, we headed out to the water holes and the group spoke about the protection and management of these special sites.
With only days until good rains were expected to begin, we buried quandong and sandalwood seeds in the soil and spoke of the importance of restoring sandalwood populations in the region.
We then ventured into the York Gum woodland and marvelled at the size, colour and growth of these beautiful trees.
Our last stop was at Echidna Rock. All eyes were on the special rock formations there, on which Badimia ancestors carved and left their markings untold thousands of years ago.
For the Bush Heritage staff, walking a similar path to that walked by Badimia people over the generations and the sharing of stories was a special time of appreciation and respect for an ancient and living culture.
In saying our goodbyes these words were spoken with sincerity and enthusiasm and a genuine desire to work together to achieve conservation and culture objectives:
Barany garlanda, Ngadhu yungguwa nganangu barany guwanda wiru. Nganangu gami bibi yaragula barna warda. Warida yalibirri barna. Badimaya barna buranymarda yalyba gugurdung, wama, gabi dhaa. Barany mabarn. Ngadhu bindubaya bugulabaya. Ngalidya gabi gnalguwa wagulangga. Yungguwa gulawu mabarn nhura.
Good day, I give you my good wishes and spirits. My grandmother and mother's sacred Country is far away. It is Emu and Wedge-tailed Eagle Country. My sacred Country is abundant with many flowers, food and waterholes. It is good magic there. I return there in my mind now. We drink water together from the rock hole. Giving back magic to you mob all here.
In 2013, the federal court decided the Badimia Native Title claim did not exist therefore Badimia do not hold Native Title. Bush Heritage is committed to working with Traditional Owners and will continue supporting Badimia people by engaging with the community and its representative groups.