20 Nov 2012
Wunta Cultural Knowledge and Fire Management
Following on from the previous small grant provided by Cape York NRM, where the Wunta Aboriginal Corporation initiated its strategic development plan, this project sought to implement some of the key actions mentioned in the plan.
The family has rarely visited the Wunta area (Nesbit River, or 'Palinjii'), however there was a strong desire expressed to get back on country to re-establish connections to country, share knowledge of country, manage country, and introduce tourism. Dorothy Short (original surname: Brown) is the last remaining elder from the Nesbit area having grew up in the Nesbit area, taking trips with her family from the mission at Old Site (Lockhart). Dorothy is now the last elder alive with strong knowledge of the Wunta country and the Wunta Aboriginal Corporation and Brown family welcomed the opportunity to see Wunta country, map and share knowledge with family and pass on knowledge. They also expressed interest in the discussion of potential opportunities for land management and business on country, including sites for tourism, mapping of weeds and learning how to manage fire.
The Nesbit area is currently, and at the time not managed by the Traditional Owners, and very little scientific data and knowledge exists and cultural knowledge of the area was being lost. This project was first step to recuperate some of the traditional knowledge, survey the area and improve the plan for the management of country, including weeds and feral animal control and traditional fire management.
The project was initiated before the Wet Season, potentially on the 20th of November and took 5 days on country, with a day either side for setting up and travel. The trip will briought approximately 25 people to the Nesbit river by 4wd vehicles and boats. Bungee Helicopters were hired to bring Dorothy Short and survey the to survey the Nesbit area. Wunta Aboriginal Corporation provided funds of $1000 to cover the remainder of the expense for the Bungee Helicopters. The field trip was run with the expertise of Mulong for video recording and traditional fire training. The field trip plan was:
Day 1 and 2 – Visiting sites, discussing history of area and cultural stories
Day 3 - Surveying the river and coastal areas, including fisheries
Day 4 and 5 – Fire management of the Nesbit grasslands
Outcomes included improved knowledge by the Wunta family of the Nesbit country and the initiation of a fire management plan for 2013. Outputs also included updated maps, GPS locations of important sites and video records, an updated management plan including a plan for burning areas through traditional methods and key ideas for development of businesses at the Nesbit area.