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Biri Bulmba Budang National Custodians of Country 2023

In August, on Djabugay Country, I was honoured to attend the Biri Bulmba Budang National Custodians of Country Gathering in Giumy (Cairns) on behalf of the Landcare Association of South Australia and the National Landcare Network (NLN), hosted by Wet Tropics Bama with Firesticks. It was an inspirational week to listen, learn and celebrate the very best ways to Care for Country through a series of Cultural Knowledge workshops and field trips.

The Gathering brought together lots of different people to share and revitalise Cultural Knowledges, discuss a diversity of economics, health, wellbeing and connection to Country. It was a great opportunity to generate new friendships and connections, whilst growing and strengthening existing relationships.

During the Mona Mona field trip hosted by the Djabugay Rangers, Victor Steffensen and Barry Hunter, we listened to how to read Country. We experienced cool burns trickling across the landscape at a slow walking pace. Leaving a mosaic of black and green, encouraging biodiversity, native grasses and healthy soils whilst protecting the trees, flora and fauna.

Learning about Cultural Fire and how it supports the health and balance of the Country whilst strengthening the identity and wellbeing of the landscape and the community, has been a healing process for me. I’ve been very worried about the health of Country, after experiencing the devastation of the wildfires, hazard reduction and back burning during 2019/20 on Karta Pintingga (Kangaroo Island).

For me Caring for Country in the right way means centering Indigenous Knowledges in land management through engagement and guidance from Traditional Owners and Community, to ensure genuine and sustainable care.

Healthy Country, creates healthy communities. The healthier the land is, the easier it is to manage.  The solution is to get the right fire, at the right time, back on to Country, to protect and revitalise the ecosystems. To burn with Country for Country. I believe it is the fundamental key to adapt to climate change.

Attending the Gathering has heightened how essential it is that we understand Cultural Protocols for the Country that we are caring for.  Working with the Grassroots Landcare Community, I hope together we can learn to prioritise appropriate and respectful consultation. Country prospers through Cultural Practices. It is imperative that we revive Culture to manage and protect landscapes. Echoing the words of Victor Steffensen, “we are stronger together”. 

By Lara Tilbrook – LASA Committee Member