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Cultural burning and learning at Wooragee

Learning from each other is the best way

By Sue Brunskill, Wooragee Landcare

On a perfect autumn afternoon recently, more than 40 people came together to share and learn about cultural burning on a property in Wooragee. This was the final scheduled burn on this current project but hopefully the practice will continue in this region. Cultural burning projects have been happening in this area for many years and Uncle Allan Murray, who led the burn, said he would like to encourage other landcare groups to become involved.

John Murray did a smoking ceremony and invited people to walk through the smoke and think good thoughts about the land and get good energy from the country. It was a moving ceremony and a privilege to be a part of the group doing it.

This paddock has been managed for conservation for more than 20 years and has some wonderful herbs, orchids and lilies among the kangaroo grass and understory plants.

The 30 mm of rain earlier in the week was ideal to dampen down the soil and vegetation, but we were still able to get enough burning happening.  Uncle Allan led the burn and there had been some preparation earlier in the day before the “light up” – some slashed breaks and a small burnt break. He explained how they lit a line of fire parallel and upwind to the break and the fire would burn back to the break. The fire was always in control and burning white smoke, and if it looked like getting a bit hotter it was beaten down a little with branchlets or sprayed with a bit of water. It was wonderful to see that we can be near fire and there be no stress, and to see fire in another light, being a powerful management tool – not the drama it is in summer.

It was a wonderful afternoon of sharing and learning and catching up with people. Wooragee Landcare is very grateful for the local Aboriginal community for being involved in this project and feel we have not only learnt many things, we have made some great connections that we look forward to continuing.

Thoughts from this landcarer? This is how land management should be – a combined effort, learning from the event and each other.

Smoke rises from a small fire tended by man sitting on the ground with people chatting and trees in the background
Photo: Cultural burning and learning at Wooragee