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Gunduwa Young Leaders

Published 21 Sep 2014 

The young leaders' group. Photo by Luke Bayley.The young leaders' group. Photo by Luke Bayley.

In the arid rangelands of Western Australia rainfall can be low and unpredictable but there’s water to be found if you know where to look.

Traditional Owners often depended on ‘gnamma holes’ – natural cavities commonly found in hard rock that act as storage tanks, filling from ground water and rainwater runoff.

Protecting gnamma holes and clearing them of dirt and sand is important. If they can collect clean water, they provide a natural source of sustenance.

Under the guidance of local Aboriginal leader Ashley Bell from Ninghan Station, young people from rural towns in Midwest Western Australia have been learning this and more about the cultural heritage and conservation values of the area on our Charles Darwin Reserve.

A weekend camp learning about conservation, Aboriginal heritage and leadership skills has kicked off a six-month Gunduwa Young Leaders’ Program.

Clearing a gnamma hole. Photo by Luke Bayley.Clearing a gnamma hole. Photo by Luke Bayley.

Aiming to expose young people to education and mentoring opportunities, the program is run by the Perenjori and Morawa Shires with support from Bush Heritage, the Geraldton Regional Community Education Centre, and The Morawa District High School.

Other activities over the weekend included navigation races, wellbeing sessions, Aboriginal Story Time around the campfire and a guided nature and bush foods walk.

The Gunduwa Young Leaders’ Program is one of several projects being funded by the Gunduwa Regional Conservation Association – an ambitious partnership that brings together local Government, pastoral and agricultural businesses, Aboriginal landholders, State government and the minerals sector to develop collaboration and environmental solutions. It’s currently funded by Mount Gibson Mining and Asia Iron.

Bush Heritage Healthy Landscape Manager, Western Rangelands, Luke Bayley, has taken a leadership role as chair of the association, which he expects to have an impact in the southern rangelands and northern wheatbelt region on a landscape scale.

“There’s no doubt that collaboration is the best way to monitor and control regional threats such as invasive weeds, feral animals, bushfires and drought,” says Luke. “We can’t operate in isolation. And getting young people involved is really important to foster their connection with the land.”

“Charles Darwin Reserve is a pretty unique classroom, sitting at a meeting point of two bioregions – the Avon Wheatbelt in the southwest and the arid Yalgoo bioregion to the north,” he explains. “This makes it a real melting pot of species.”

Charles Darwin Reserve is a pretty unique classroom, sitting at a meeting point of two bioregions.

The association has already funded several other projects, including:

  • Research with Edith Cowan University on the impact of fire on bird communities;
  • Research into the impacts of farming on soil microbiology; and
  • Promotion of the North Central Mallee Fowl Preservation Group, to increase membership and capacity.

The Association ran a community Forum on Collaboration across the Landscape at this year’s Charles Darwin Reserve Open Day and is working towards a landscape investment plan.

Gunduwa is the local Badimaya name for echidna. The Association’s partners include: