Territory Stories

Desert fire : fire and regional land management in the arid landscapes of Australia



Desert fire : fire and regional land management in the arid landscapes of Australia

Other title

edited by GP Edwards and GE Allan


Edwards, Glenn P; Allan, G. E.


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT; DKCRC Report 37




Date:2009; Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).

Table of contents

Executive summary -- 1. Introduction and overview of Desert Fire -- 2. Managing fire in the southern Tanami Desert -- 3. Aboriginal burning issues in the southern Tanami: towards understanding tradition-based fire knowledge in a contemporary context -- 4. Pastoralists’ perspectives on the costs of widespread fires in the pastoral lands of the southern Northern Territory region of central Australia, 2000–02 -- 5. A review of fire management on central Australian conservation reserves: towards best practice -- 6. The fire history of Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve 1984–2005.




Fire Management -- Australia, Central

Publisher name

Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre

Place of publication

Alice Springs


DKCRC Report 37


iii, 338 p. : col. ill. ; 30 cm.

File type



1741581125; 1741581109





Copyright owner

Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

Desert Knowledge CRC8 Desert Fire: f i re and regional land management in the ar id landscapes of Austral ia Ch : Aboriginal burning issues in the southern Tanami: tradition-based fire knowledge pp. 98 ... Livelihoods and what people would like to see happen with fire At Yuendumu, interest was expressed by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in the following activities and livelihoods in relation to fire: school-based projects; engagement of younger Warlpiri men and women learning about cultural geography, traditional fire knowledge and practices; work-based training; and the sharing of fire knowledge with non-Aboriginal researchers. Suggestions for livelihood and fire-based activities were as follows. (a) School-based fire activities In order to help the Desert Fire research, both Tommy Watson and Yuendumu School Principal, Paul Unsworth, expressed interest in having Warlpiri children learn about fire and water issues in the context of school. It was proposed that children design fire posters to advertise upcoming fire trips and promote positive fire messages, that police give fire talks to school children and that an end-of-term play be performed about fire themes. Due to other pressing concerns these suggestions were not implemented during the research process. They are, however, suggestions that can be fruitfully taken up at some later time. (b) Work-based training Peter Gamlin, the CDEP Coordinator, expressed interest in the provision of conservation training and work as part of CDEP. Project Coordinators for the Mt Theo Substance Abuse Program suggested that a block of the programs activities could focus on burning techniques and traditional fire stories associated with Warlukurlangu Jukurrpa, the Fire Dreaming. (c) Sharing cultural knowledge of fire Warlpiri informant Jeannie Egan Nungarrayi suggested that traditional knowledge of fire was taught best in an applied context, for example, during school-based country visits to Warlpiri places such as Lungardajarra (approximately 23 hours drive from Yuendumu), Warlukurlangu and Mawurrungu (a Mala Dreaming place between Mt Theo and Willowra). Neville Poulsen Japangardi suggested a separate program for the women followed by one for the men, with involvement from knowledgeable Nyirrpi people. He affirmed the value of country trips as follows: When people go to the country they can feel it, it is real; and when they come back they can make a book, its real; and then when they grow up they might become like Bushfires NT mob or Rangers. When asked what he thought about the suggestion to bring all the Warlpiri Rangers from the Tanami together to do a fire workshop, he replied that it was a good thing and that everyone needs to work together. He suggested Mt Davidson as a possible meeting place for the Rangers and Vaughan Springs as an area that would benefit from fire management: At Vaughan Springs we could work together to look after country, even though we fight we can work together to look after country as this country is best country. As noted earlier, Vaughan Springs is a well-watered area on the Mount Doreen pastoral lease. Japangardi also suggested that a scientific research base be established where Community rangers could study fire management techniques in a practical setting, for example, at Newhaven or Sangsters Bore. He also commented that multidisciplinary cross-cultural teams could facilitate the sharing of knowledge between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal experts. He noted, for example, that he had learnt about different types of spinifex and their responses to fire from his work with a non-Aboriginal botanist. He commented that young people [should] learn about the traditional ways of burning as well as use scientific technology like these fire maps. The older people with the younger people can be involved in fire work as well as setting up fauna traps when working on fire issues. We could look at what happens to animals after bushfires go through, looking at ant pits and the different animals that are

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