The Healthy Country Project
Healthy Country planning followed an internationally recognised process, based on the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation.
Between 2014 and 2017, a number of planning workshops were held on country allowing all Bunuba people to have a say.
Key elements discussed included a shared vision for the future, choosing conservation targets, defining success, developing strategies and identifying potential threats.
The results are recorded in the Jalangurru Muwayi Healthy Country Plan, which provides a coherent overview of how the Bunuba community sees its country as a whole, living, interconnected system, and spells out how it should be cared for.
The Bunuba people have always been on the front foot in initiating relationships with others to help protect their country and culture. In addition to working with Bush Heritage and other environment groups (such as Environs Kimberley) they’ve:
- worked for many years with Parks and Wildlife Service (PaWS) to manage the Geike Gorge and Windjana Gorge National Parks
- created a unique educational partnership with Melbourne’s Wesley College – the Yiramalay Studio School on Yarranggi, providing education and cross cultural exchanges for both Kimberley and Wesley kids.
- worked closely with scientists researching archaeology, animals, plants and rock art.
The Bunuba Rangers
The Bunuba Rangers, based in Fitzroy Crossing, are an independent group established by the Bunuba Dawangarri Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC). The Department of Parks and Wildlife funds the rangers to help manage significant central west Kimberley conservation reserves established on Bunuba country.
Bunuba Rangers are the main force carrying out the Jalangurru Muwayi Plan, with support from BDAC, partners and the wider Bunuba community.
Guided walks in Bunuba country
The many tourists visiting parks in Bunuba country presents opportuntities as well as challenges. One way to experience the wonders of the Kimberley and see the impact Aboriginal ranger programs are having in this part of Australia is through the program of Kimberley Country Guided Walks.
We understand and we see how we can make a difference, working with people we help them and we help ourselves while taking care of country.”
– Clive Aiken, Founding Bunuba Ranger Coordinator.
Culture and traditional knowledge
The Bunuba people have extended families, or clans, called Dawangarri. In the days before European settlement there were 18 Dawangarri, each with its own territory. Together they made up the Bunuba nation – separate groups of river, ranges, plains and fringing-desert people.
They would hunt and gather according to traditional seasons, for which animals and plants were important indications.
Bunuba people are also custodians of the nationally significant Jandamarra story.
Protecting their cultural history and recording and preserving language and traditions is a key priority in the Healthy Country Plan.
Archaeological work at Jumburrurru (Carpenter’s Gap) has shown Bunuba people have been on this land for at least 46,000 years. Through practising law and culture, as has been done here for around 2,000 generations, Bunuba people are keeping this country, with its animals, plants and spirits, alive and healthy, just as it keeps the Bunuba people alive and healthy.