Indigenous Communities

and the Environment

Bardi Jawi

Bardi Jawi

The photos used are courtesy of Kimberley land council.

The photos used are courtesy of Kimberley land council.

Kimberley Western Australia | Declared in May 2013

Picture this. Imagine seeing eleven meter high tides that recede to reveal more animals and plants that you can count. Crystal clear sea water that can reach temperatures of 26 degrees Celsius and golden beaches where Indigenous people, young and old, fish and share culture. This is Bardi Jawi Indigenous Protected Area.

The 95,000 hectare Bardi Jawi Indigenous Protected Area is surrounded by sea on three sides and is 160 kilometres north of Broome. Its traditional owners are saltwater people from six coastal clan groups who are based in three communities, Djarindjin, Lombadina, and Ardyaloon (One Arm Point). The Bardi Jawi name comes from two language dialects, Bardi from the mainland and Jawi from Iwany (Sunday Island).

Caring for their country has taken many forms over the years. From humble beginnings in 2006 the Bardi Jawi rangers have won national awards for their efforts in protecting odorr (dugongs) and goorlil (turtles) and the development of a cultural awareness workshop. In 2012 their expertise led them to the United Arab Emirates where they helped their peers develop dugong tagging techniques.

The rangers are the champions of the Bardi Jawi community and have spearheaded weed and feral animal control, seagrass monitoring, wildlife surveys and fire management efforts.

Bardi Jawi Indigenous Protected Area consists of a variety of landscape types including eucalyptus forests, grasslands, mangroves, tidal mudflats and permanent and ephemeral wetlands. The area is a sanctuary for many species including the endangered gouldian finch and the ungainly bush stone curlews whose wailing calls pierce the night. The arrival of migratory birds such as eastern curlews, oriental cuckoos and yellow wagtails mark the passage of time.

Coral structures which are attached to the mainland are known as shore reefs and are a significant natural resource for people and animals alike. Islands such as Jallarn, off the coast of Ardyaloon provide marine animals with a shelter from sharks, while the reefs are important fishing grounds for the Bardi Jawi. Aarli (fish) is abundant in these areas and is high in nutritional value. The Bardi Jawi use both traditional and modern techniques to catch different kinds of fish such as jidal (trevally), jooloo (spanish flag), gambal (surgeonfish).

Skilled hunters catch goorlil, which are prized for their high quality meat, with spears made from manawan (wattle). They choose the best turtles by comparing the shape and pattern of their shells and listening to their breathing. odorr, which are only hunted in the cooler months, are facing increased pressure from modern equipment, such as motorised boats. The Bardi Jawi are helping to protect odorr populations by using their traditional knowledge.

In 2011, parts of Bardi Jawi were registered on the national heritage list. The reasons behind the listing include the area's natural beauty, and the historic usage of galwa (double log raft) for transport and guwarn (pearl shell) for trading. Like all of Australia's Indigenous Protected Areas, Bardi Jawi is part of the National Reserve System, our nation's most secure way of protecting the environment and cultural heritage.

Formally dedicated in May 2013, Bardi Jawi will be managed under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Category IV, as a habitat and species management area and Category VI, as a protected area with sustainable use of natural resources.

Download this page as the Bardi Jawi fact sheet (PDF - 502 KB)