Projects in New South Wales
Ngulingah Local Aboriginal Land Council - restoring biodiversity and traditional knowledge around the Nimbin Rocks
Ranger heritage walk, Nimbin Rocks
Photo: Noel King
The Bundjalung people are the original custodians of the northern coastal areas of NSW and this area continues to hold special significance. One of the key cultural sites is Nimbin Rocks, which was once used as an initiation ground for their young boys.
Nimbin Rocks were formed by an ancient, eroded volcanic dyke and is located just south of the Nimbin township. It is the home of a number of threatened or vulnerable flora as well as being an important habitat for the glossy black cockatoo.
The Working on Country project employs a team of part-time Aboriginal rangers to protect and restore the environmental health on the two properties of approximately 119 hectares that surround this important cultural site.
The rangers are removing heavy weed infestations including lantana, a dense impenetrable thicket, which is regarded as one of the worst weeds in Australia because of its invasiveness and negative impact on economies and the environment.
They are also collecting seeds and propagating and revegetating native plants that are suitable for bush food or other traditional uses. These plant species also feature in a demonstration site that the rangers are establishing to help share cultural knowledge amongst the wider community.
Beryl Drives a Bobcat
Photo: Phllipa Carmichael
My grandchildren have not known now what it's like to grow up without land - I didn't grow up owning land, nor my Mum. It changes how we think, how we do things. We've got land. Now we have to reacquaint ourselves with our custodial role of land management.
Lee Patterson, traditional owner.
The Wattleridge and Tarriwa Kurrukun Indigenous Protected Areas in northern NSW, near the New England township of Guyra, cover an area of more than 1,800 hectares and are home to an amazing diversity of plants and animals.
Wattleridge was declared an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) in 2001, the first in NSW. It contains large areas of bushland which haven't been logged, grazed or frequently burnt for nearly 30 years, resulting in a wide range of plant species not found elsewhere in the region. It also contains several sites of cultural significance, including an ancient rock art site, scarred trees and axe-grinding grooves on granite boulders Within eight years Tarriwa Kurrukun, meaning 'strong one' in the Banbai Nation language, was also declared an IPA. Within this property more than 500 different plant species are found and this diversity of plants is matched by a diversity of animals.
Birds making a home at Tarriwa Kurrukun include glossy black and red-tailed black cockatoos, swift and regent parrots. The endangered spotted-tailed quoll and vulnerable brush-tailed phascogale and eastern pygmy possum are found here as are reptiles including the vulnerable paleheaded snake and Stephen's banded snake.
The Working on Country project employs three Aboriginal work crews to assist the property owners, the Banbai people, to continue protecting the land's wildlife habitat, educate visitors on the conservation values, develop a seed nursery for revegetation of degraded areas, feral animal mapping and control, water quality testing, and promote the biodiversity of the area.
Eradicating tobacco bush
Photo: Ben Pye
Kyogle, in the Northern Rivers region of northern NSW is the home of the most extensive areas of subtropical rainforest in the world. Few places on earth contain so many plants and animals which remain relatively unchanged from their ancestors in the fossil record.
Due to their international importance, the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia have been inscribed on the World Heritage List.
A team of rangers from the Githabul people work across some 110,000 hectares which includes these rainforests as well as the Border Ranges National Biodiversity Hotspot.
Their Working on Country project is addressing the management of weeds such as lantana and introduced vine species in areas of high cultural significance to the Githabul people. The rangers are also undertaking interpretation and education activities to increase visitor knowledge on the Indigenous values of the area.
The Willandra Lakes region in far south western NSW is one of 15 World Heritage places included in the National Heritage List. It is home to the oldest ritual human burials in the world and contains a system of ancient lakes. Aboriginal people lived on the shores of the lakes for at least 50,000 years and the remains of a 40,000 year old female found in the dunes of Lake Mungo are believed to be the oldest ritual cremation site in the world. Lake Mungo is one of 17 lakes in the amazing Willandra Lakes region.
The Aboriginal rangers supported under this Working on Country project work in partnership with private landholders and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service staff to manage this fragile landscape through ongoing monitoring and implementation of on ground conservation works across 2.4 million hectares.
The Great Lakes are located on the lower north coast of NSW and the system provides habitat for a diverse number of native flora and fauna species, including large numbers of waterbirds.
It also supports significant oyster, fishing, tourism and recreation industries, in fact it is estimated the area produces one third of Australia's oyster harvest.
The area encompasses Myall Lakes National Park, an international recognised Ramsar listed wetland renowned for its near natural condition and high levels of biodiversity with over 600 species of plants and 300 animal species.
The Working on Country project employs three teams of Aboriginal rangers to focus on natural resource management and cultural resource management activities including cultural assessments, threatened species management, Indigenous knowledge transfer and aquatic ecosystem improvement. Their work is playing an important role in the preservation and management of the unique environmental and cultural values of the region.
Environment Programmes Branch
Indigenous Affairs - Centra Plaza
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
PO Box 6500
Canberra ACT 2600
Phone 1800 982 280 (free call) Email WorkingOnCountry@