Cultural Connections in Caring for Country
  • Last updated:
  • 18 Jun 2019

Imagine being an environmentalist but living in a culture where you didn’t have to worry to any great degree about the loss of local biodiversity and rapid environmental decline. Across Australia this is how hundreds of millions people lived over the past 60,000 years. While Landcare had its beginnings 25 years ago (followed by Bush Care, Coast Care, Caring for Our Country, along with other groups, it is often overlooked that Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people had specific and sustainable management practices for land and water. These practices helped them retain the legacy and heritage of one of the world’s longest living cultures here in Australia.

Bill Gammage in his award winning book, The Biggest Estate on Earth, describes the idea of Caring for Country. The (Aboriginal) Dreaming taught why the world must be maintained, the land revealed how.

One made land care compulsory, the other made it rewarding. One was spiritual and universal, the other practical and local. Songlines distributed land spiritually, country distributed it geographically.

Gammage also states, "I venture that for Aboriginal people no land is natural, all is cultural and that every place is filled with presences, rights and duties, making people life curators in two senses - bound for life to keep country alive. Some places may not be touched for years but not for a moment did carers forget them. Sooner or later they patrolled every corner, burning, balancing, refreshing. Land care was the main purpose of life" (Gammage 2011).

Today many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people are working to care for their traditional estates and continue cultural practices to maintain local biodiversity.

Here on the Sunshine Coast members of Bunya Bunya Country Aboriginal Corporation are making their contribution by undertaking a range of projects through community partnerships. These include revegetation, wildlife monitoring, and extending awareness about the Aboriginal Cultural Landscape upon which we all live and work. Some of these projects include the Marooochy Mangrove Nursery Project, the vulnerable Water Mouse (Xeromys myoides) mapping project, the FarmFlow Riverbank Revegetation Project, water quality testing along the Maroochy Estuary and workshops in Aboriginal Cultural Heritage.

Members of Bunya Bunya Country Aboriginal Corporation include Kabi Kabi Traditional Owners and historically connected Aboriginal People from the Sunshine Coast. They are recognised for their work in maintaining their people’s cultural heritage and extending cultural awareness in collaboration with elders and the wider community.

Article By Kerry Jones, Helen Jones, Anne Miller, Sean Fleischfresser, Loretta Algar and Genevieve Jones