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Historic cultural fires lit a second time

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Patrick Goldsmith, Yorke Peninsula Country Times

There were cultural burns across Yorke Peninsula from Monday to Friday, June 19-23.

In a bid to reinvigorate the Narungga land management practice, Narungga men and women took to four locations in Ardrossan, Point Pearce and Minlaton for just the second time in recent history to ignite shrubbery.

A part of a Yorke Peninsula Council project funded through the federal government’s Preparing Australian Communities local stream, the week started in Ardrossan, with Narungga lead fire practitioners Peter Turner and Clem Newchurch talking attendees through the process.

The events were attended by local Indigenous people, council and Northern and Yorke Landscape Board representatives as well as community members.

Mr Newchurch, a Narungga and Kaurna man, said the process was very much about saving country.

“For us this is a pretty historical time, what we’re doing here is pretty special,” he said.

“We’re learning lots as we go along… and I’d like to think if we continue doing burns and preparing country using our old people’s land management practices, hopefully when we’re looking back 500 years, our young fellas are going to be pretty proud of what we’re doing.”

The Ardrossan site is ecologically significant, with at least 89 native plant species in the 6.8-hectare area.

Mr Turner said there were many additional benefits to the process.

“Since we’re doing cultural burns now, we’ve got to bring our children up with that, something we missed out on growing up,” he said.

“To see the fire respond and go out by itself, in an area which it’s meant to work, is pretty magical.

“At the moment in a lot of areas of Australia, fires (take hold), there’s that much fuel out there… so that’s part of the benefit of cultural burning, we’re cleaning the country as well as promoting plant growth.”

The other burns were held at Wadgedin Scrub at Point Pearce, on private property at Minlaton and at Minlagawi Gum Flat Reserve.

The project aims to build cultural burning knowledge, experience and capacity amongst Narungga people and raise awareness in the broader community about the importance of the practice, its role in reducing wildfire risk and keeping country healthy through burning in the right way.

Yorke Peninsula Country Times 4 July 2023

This article appeared in the Yorke Peninsula Country Times, 4 July 2023.


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