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Wildfire causes major losses to ground cover, and is a key contributor to erosion of Cape York’s fragile soils, to sedimentation of water ways, and to poorer water quality on Cape York.  It also results in reduced biodiversity and a reduction of suitable grazing country.

Cape York Traditional Owners take the National Indigenous Fire Workshop to southern Australia for the first time

Story Peta-Marie Standley

Fire management training opportunities for land managers on the Cape have increased

As late season fires continued to burn across Cape York, many land managers undertaking best practice savanna burning fire management implemented their early season burns prior to 1 August 2018.

However, sometimes these early burns were not enough to prevent large areas of the landscape from burning in the late dry season.

Normanby Station’s Vince and Cliff Harrigan recently visited 12 primary schools in Victoria to share information about culture, country and life in Far North Queensland. The ‘classroom connections’, organised by Aboriginal cultural tour company Culture Connect, occurred over two weeks in March across Melbourne schools, and gave Victorian kids a rare opportunity to learn about Aboriginal culture and the unique features and history of the Balnggarrawarra homelands on Cape York.

Words Juliana Foxlee | Photo James Donaldson

Cape York NRM is partnering with Northern Gulf Resource Management Group to facilitate opportunities for Australian Indigenous people to showcase and share their cultural fire knowledge, establish a network of Indigenous fire practitioners and protect the habitat of threatened species.

In May, Northern Gulf RMG coordinated an on- country fire workshop at Talaroo Station in the northern Gulf area. The three - day event was hosted by the Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation.

A documentary about Cape York cassowaries premiered in Coen in October

Words and photos Juliana Foxlee

Springvale Station Nature Refuge is located 40km south west of Cooktown. Once a cattle station, the culturally – important property is now a refuge for a diverse range of vulnerable flora and fauna.

The Palaszczuk government purchased Springvale Station in 2016 in a bid to reduce sediment flowing from the degraded paddocks into the Normanby River.

The Queensland government is now investing in a new project which will support water quality outcomes and *Bama livelihoods.

Understanding the cultural responsibility of looking after Country

Stories from the people who live, breathe and work Cape York Peninsula, managing the land and our future.

First episode available Friday 10 February 2017.

Play below, click to subscribe.

Vince Harrigan is a Traditional Owner and Ranger from Normanby Station in southern Cape York. The 31,400 acre property was returned to his family in the 1990s. The Harrigan brothers are caring for country and Vince says he can see Country becoming healthy again. 

The Normanby River runs through the property into Princess Charlotte Bay – and Vince knows that work being undertaken on the property is having a positive impact the health of the reef. 

Sue Shephard moved to Cape York in 1970 to work at Musgrave Station for the Shephard family.  She met the youngest Shephard son, Tom, got married, and together they raised four children on Artemis Station.

Artemis is a 125 thousand hectare cattle property between Laura and Coen on Cape York Peninsula. Sue tells some amazing stories of raising kids and cattle, caring for country, and researching the endangered golden shouldered parrot.

Desmond Tayley is a Cape York leader, who has the rare distinction of being one of Australia’s youngest and longest-serving mayors.

As the Mayor of Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council, he describes his community as the place “so nice you’ve got to say it twice”.

Wujal Wujal, on southern Cape York, is where the rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef. It’s an Indigenous community located in lush country on the banks of the Bloomfield River.

Wujal Wujal is south of Cooktown, north of the Daintree, and home to about 500 people.

In Episode 1 of My Cape York Life, we talk with Shelley Lyon - a ranger at Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve - on the banks of the Wenlock River.

Shelley has spent over 40 years on Cape York working and living in some of Australia's most beautiful and remote places. In this episode we learn how Shelley and her family came to live on the Cape, and hear some funny and scary tales of her adventures over the years. 

Jessie Price is a young mum, an environmental scientist, and the Grazing Engagement Officer with South Cape York Catchments - a community-based natural resource management organisation based in Cooktown.

Jessie began her Cape York working life as a trainee with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, a spectacular introduction to the region she loves living in and working for.

Jessie is passionate about conservation on Cape York, and understands first-hand the challenges of having a career and raising a family in one of Australia's remote regions.

Billy Harrigan is the Cultural Officer with Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council and is a Traditional Owner from the area.

He has always lived in the south-east of Cape York and has worked hard throughout his life.  Now, he is a few years from retirement. He has seen a lot of change in community, technology, environmental management and government policy.

In this episode of My Cape York Life, Billy reflects on life in Wujal Wujal and Cape York, the importance of culture and tradition, on life under the Aboriginal Protectorate and the long road to getting Country back.

Dr Wendy Seabrook is an ecologist, an innovator and a strategic  thinker.  She has worked around the world and is originally from London. She's worked with the giant Aldabra tortoises in the Seychelles and cane toads in northern New South Wales and on the Atherton Tablelands. And, "like many people (she) just ended up in Cooktown".

In Episode 2 of My Cape York Life we continue the journey of Shelley Lyon and her family through Cape York Peninsula in far north Queensland.  We travel to Cooktown, Lakefield National Park, the Great Barrier Reef and Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve, learning about life in remote Cape York. We go beachcombing and exploring, and hear what's its like coming face-to-face with a crocodile. 

Enjoy, subscribe, and please invite your friends to listen in.

This week Cape York NRM bring you two bonus episodes of My Cape York Life.

We are talking with Bob Frazer, who was the founding Chief Executive Officer of Cape York NRM, and spent eight years with the organisation, retiring in April 2018.

Bob has an impressive career, spending 13 years in NRM leadership positions in Cape York and North Queensland, and he is highly regarded across Australia for his work.

Waratah Nicholls arrived in Far North Queensland in the early 80's for a Bungle in the Jungle at Bloomfield and fell in love. Her piece of paradise is in Mungumby Valley - a stones throw from the famous Lions Den Hotel. 

Waratah is an artist, teacher and community worker. Through her work, her passion and her kindness, Waratah has left her mark in art galleries, communities and hearts across Cape York Peninsula. She's currently coordinating the 'Gateway to the Cape' - a concept to develop a visitor stop in Lakeland, promoting environmental awareness for travellers.

Lewis Roberts is a highly regarded self-taught naturalist and botanical illustrator. He has an Order of Australia, and last year quietly received the Queensland Natural History award. Scientists from all over the world visit Lewis and his brother Charlie at Shiptons Flat – a property which has been in their family for well over one hundred years. Lewis has had several species named after him, yet is incredibly modest. His kind and gentle nature, and in depth knowledge of his environment, shines through in this interview - on the banks of Parrot Creek at Shiptons Flat.

Mikayla Down and Wilfred Peter are Traditional Owners from Lama Lama Country, which hugs the northern coast of Princess Charlotte Bay on Cape York Peninsula.

Mikayla and Wilfred work as rangers with Yintjingga Aboriginal Corporation's Lama Lama Rangers caring for and managing traditional land and sea country from Silver Plains in the north to Marina Plains in the south. 

Listen as Mikayla and Wilfred discuss life as a ranger, growing up in Cape York, and the responsibilities they hold as young Traditional Owners caring for their Country.

Bob Frazer was the founding Chief Executive Officer of Cape York NRM, who spent eight years with the organisation until he retired in April 2018.

Bob has an impressive career, spending 13 years in NRM leadership positions in Cape York and North Queensland, and he is highly regarded across Australia for his work.

In this bonus eposide of My Cape York Life, Bob shares his story about working on Cape York, the challenges of setting up a regional natural resource management body, and his reflections on natural resource management into the future.

Marie Shipton lives in Wujal Wujal and is a Traditional Owner from the area. The interview is recorded on Country at the mouth of the beautiful Bloomfield River, in the company of a patrolling crocodile. 

Marie talks about growing up on the river, before being moved to Wujal Wujal by the Lutheran Church, and shares stories about her family, culture and life in the place where the rainforest meets the reef. 

These days Marie works to preserve and share the stories and culture of her Country, as a Cultural Officer at Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Council.

Stories from the people who live, breathe and work Cape York Peninsula, managing the land and our future.

First episode available Friday 16 March 2018.

Play below, click to subscribe.

The theme music is Cape York by Black Image Band, used with permission from Vince Harrigan, Black Image Band.

This series is hosted by Cape York NRM's Lyndal Scobell, and produced by Richard Dinnen. Cape York NRM's on-line team are Ben Lister and Robyn May.

Louise Stone has lived a colourful life.  She grew up on dairy farm on the Atherton Tablelands and has travelled Australia's east coast in horse and buggy. Louise can play almost any musical instrument she picks up, sings like a songbird and she once went on tour with Ester King from the Platters. She has a fascinating career working in Aboriginal communities in Queensland and Northern Territory, training Rangers in Conservation and Land Management. Until late last year, Louise was the Ranger Coordinator with Mapoon Land and Sea Rangers.

Alan Wilson has spent almost 40 years on Cape York, and has seen and done a lot. He is a Cook Shire Councillor, and he’s run cattle stations, the Laura pub and the town’s roadhouse.

He has led many campaigns to improve life on the Cape. He pushed for the new bridge over the Laura River south of town, and continues to campaign for one at north Laura – where wet season floods isolate the town and can be a real danger to people. 

Alan has spent years campaign for a container deposit scheme for Queensland - which has finally been taken on by the Queensland Government.

We begin the second series of My Cape York Life on Artemis Station, a cattle property in the heart of Cape York.  Artemis is a 125 thousand hectare property midway between Coen and Laura. The property has been in the Shephard family for about 100 years and is run by Tom and Sue Shephard. In episode one, we are talking with Tom.

Peter and Annette Marriott have done a lot in their time together on Cape York Peninsula.

The Marriotts run Ninda Creek, a 9,000 acre cattle property near Lakeland on southern Cape York.

Annette was born in Cooktown, and Peter moved to the Cape in the early 70s to manage Crocodile Station. 45 years later he hasn’t quite made the fortune he dreamed of back then, but Peter and Annette still love living and working on the Cape.

This investment strategy released in 2011 presents an in-depth explanation of the funding allocation for the Western Cape Communities Trust, established by the Western Cape Communities Co-existence Agreement for a number of purposes such as natural resource management and funding allocation.

Poster outlining a set of guiding priniciples on which Laura Rangers will operate on their country. The country plan, through extensive consultation with Traditional owners and historical people, reflects the knowledge and concerns of the Indigenous groups identifying with the area surrounding Laura. Most of the concerns explored in this document are cross-cultural, varying only in relative importance depending on their relevance to specific interest groups. 

This strategic plan was developed following a review of the 2007 Western Chamber of Commerce Strategic Plan during a workshop in Weipa on the 20th of November 2009.

We are proud and culturally strong community organisation. Our Board and members have an acute understanding of the negative aspects and impact of Australian history and remain wholly committed to moving beyond the problems of fear, blame, ignorance, and denial to restore a sense of pride and dignity among all people. Our Plan will build on the solid foundation established by our organisation by increasing local organisational coordination, maximising resource efficiency and capitalising on the strengths and opportunities available to our families and our community.

Jalunji-Warra Land and Sea Country

(excerpt)

An Act to provide for the identification of the significant natural and cultural values of Cape York Peninsula, and cooperative and ecologically sustainable management of Cape York Peninsula.

This document outlines the cultural heritage management plan for the Kuuku I’yu Northern Kaanju Ngaachi for the next six years from 2011 to 2017. This is an iterative document, meaning that it will be reviewed and updated as more of the KINKN is mapped and surveyed and cultural heritage knowledge is recorded over the coming years.

The development of this management plan has been conducted over four stages: