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Engage & inspire

Highlights from 2021-22 of our work helping people to experience, connect with, and learn about the bush to inspire support for its conservation.

Celebrating 30 years of conservation

We used our 30th anniversary as an opportunity to celebrate and thank everyone who has played a part in our story to date.

The year began with our Bush Heroes campaign shining a light on the people working hard behind the scenes to return the bush to good health.

Their images and words graced the screens of Australians across the country via a Community Service Announcement - aired for free on Channel 7 - and through a series of ads that appeared on The Guardian Online and on JCDecaux billboards and panels provided pro-bono as part of our new partnership.

We also ran our first social media fundraiser, Cuppa for the Bush, on our birthday, asking followers to donate the cost of a cuppa to our work. With support from KeepCup and thousands of new and existing donors, the campaign raised over $66,000.

Finally, in December 2021 we were able to host a face-to-face celebration with nearly 80 volunteers, donors, staff and partners at Oura Oura Reserve, our birthplace in northern Tasmania’s Liffey Valley.

“Our story is not that of a single organisation, rather, it is the story of tens of thousands of concerned individuals like you who, at some point in the last three decades, realised more needs to be done to protect our native species and took action.”
-Heather Campbell, Chief Executive Office

Bringing the sounds of the bush to life

Audio has the power to connect and transport people to places in a way that few other mediums do. It's one thing to read about the significance of protecting remnant Wandoo woodlands in Western Australia, or to know on an intellectual level that people are fighting to preserve Indigenous knowledge systems, but quite another to hear those stories through the voices of those who are closest to them.

That's the premise on which our first podcast, Big Sky Country, was built. This six-episode series takes its listeners deep into the bush to hear stories of the land and the people fighting to protect it.

Big Sky Country, a Bush Heritge podcast

At a time when many Australians were confined to their homes and suburbs, this podcast connected them with some of Australia’s most remote landscapes, from the eucalypt woodlands of Dja Dja Wurrung country in central Victoria, to the grassy plains and rocky outcrops of central Arnhem Land.

It features interviews with experts in culture, ecology, conservation and country telling stories about how climate change is impacting Indigenous seasonal calendars in northern Australia, why we’re doing everything we can to save the last remaining population of a very tiny fish in outback Queensland, and how some very special seedlings could help prevent the mass dieback of woodlands across eastern Australia.

Since its launch in late January 2022, Big Sky Country has had over 11,000 unique downloads and has reached every corner of the globe, with listeners in the United States, Germany, Switzerland, India, Japan and many other countries.

Listen to Big Sky Country

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“Loved this thought-provoking podcast. Great mix of storytelling, information and beautiful sounds of the bush. I felt like I was transported out to the country for 15 minutes of my commute.”
-Sun Hattie, Big Sky Country listener (Apple Podcasts)

A Balanggarra homecoming

Balanggarra country encompasses 2.9-million-hectares of Western Australia’s east Kimberley region. To Balanggarra people, this is their Gra – the land, sea, rivers, islands and all that they contain.

In late 2020, Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation approached Bush Heritage seeking capacity building support for its vision of a new cultural and nature-based tourist venture and training and research hub on Home Valley Station in support of their Healthy Country Plan goals.

Home Valley General Manager, Trisha Birch.  Photo by Balanggarra ventures.
Home Valley General Manager, Trisha Birch. Photo by Balanggarra ventures.

The Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation awarded them the tender to manage the enterprise, and they saw an opportunity for it to become an employment and training hub for the community.

The station opened its doors to visitors last year and met its goal for Traditional Owners to make up 85% of its staff, including its first female Aboriginal General Manager.

Balanggarra is now able to use Home Valley as a base to support onsite training for Indigenous men and women from the region in cultural and nature-based tourism, hospitality and sustainable land and cultural management.

Although Home Valley is closed for the 2022 season due to COVID-19, bookings are already open for the 2023 season.

Bush Heritage hits the streets

Bush Heritage’s efforts to engage more people with our work were given a boost in 2021 when we were selected as a major charity partner for leading global media company JCDecaux.

The partnership resulted in free advertising for our Force of Nature campaign, which asked the Australian public to be a force of nature, for nature. Our campaign artwork was featured on billboards, at tram and bus stops, and on train station TVs in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, garnering a net reach of over 10 million people.

A billboard promoting Bush Heritage.
A billboard promoting Bush Heritage.

This partnership was the result of JCDecaux’s new charity support arm, JCDecaux HEART, which focuses on contributing to social impact causes in three areas: environmental sustainability, health and mental health, and enriching urban communities.

The exposure our brand has received through this transformational partnership has bolstered our efforts to access new funding avenues that will enable us to meet our goal of protecting 30 million hectares by 2030.

Keeping culture alive

Wangkamadla people, including children and Elders, gathered on the newly renamed Pilungah Reserve in far western Queensland in September 2021 for a culture camp to celebrate their recent native title determination.

Four generations of Wangkamadla people were represented at the culture camp, and, for many, it was the first time they'd spent time in their country.

The camp provided an opportunity for adults to pass stories, dreamings and knowledge of their land and culture down to the next generation, helping to maintain Wangkamadla people’s unbroken connection with their culture.

Wangkamadla culture camp. Photo by Peter Wallis.
Wangkamadla culture camp. Photo by Peter Wallis.

With Bush Heritage reserve managers in attendance, it also allowed both parties to explore how western and cultural science can interconnect and support each other.

This project received funding support from the Department of Environment and Science, Queensland Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Program.

Watch a video of Wangkamadla Traditional Owner Avelina Tarrago describing the importance of passing culture down to the next generation on our Pilungah Reserve page.