Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area
Gulf of Carpentaria | Declared in November 2000
The land will exist forever. It must be protected so that it will remain the same, so that it can be seen in the same way that the elders saw it in the past. Our vision and hope is that Yolngu will continue to use the land for all the generations to come.
Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) was declared in November 2000. It covers over 92,000 hectares of coastline and hinterland country on the western edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria, forms part of the wider traditional lands of the Yolngu people.
All photos courtesy of Dhimurru Land Management Aboriginal Corporation (Left) Turtle measuring, Jane Dermer. (Right) Turtle population monitoring. (Bottom) Ranger guided walk, Phil Wise.
Sandy beaches, rocky coastal islands, spreading mangroves and ancient dune systems are found along Dhimurru's coasts. Inland, the Guwatjurumurru (Giddy River) flows through cascades and rockpools, before meandering through the coastal plain.
Dhimurru's lands are held for the Traditional Owners by the Arnhem Land Aboriginal Land Trust, and their interests are represented by the Northern Land Council. The IPA is run by the Dhimurru Land Management Aboriginal Corporation, which was created in 1992 to deal with increasing numbers of visitors and growth in the local township of Nhulunbuy. They work with the Traditional Owners, who direct land management and approve access to their lands via a permit system. The Corporation looks after the day to day running of the IPA, making sure things are done in a way that reflects Yolngu cultural values.
Many Traditional Owners work as rangers on the IPA, monitoring and protecting the wildlife. Part of their job is surveying turtle and crocodile numbers to make sure the populations are healthy. Another key role is the removal of marine debris washed up on beaches. Every year the rangers remove tonnes of discarded fishing nets known as ghost nets, rescuing turtles and other marine life entangled and injured in the plastic mesh.
The effectiveness of this work was recognised in 2001 by a Banksia Award - Australia's prestigious environmental award scheme - in the Marine and Coastal category. This was awarded to Dhimurru for a marine project they worked on with WWF-Australia, Conservation Volunteers Australia and Northern Territory Fisheries.
Local schoolchildren, including students from Nhulunbuy and Yirrkala Primary Schools, go on interpretive walks with rangers to learn about their work, cultural traditions and how they protect the environment. The rangers also assist Australian Quarantine and Inspection Services with ship inspections (to guard against introduced species), and talk to visitors about the IPA.
IPA funding helps manage visitor pressures on popular areas by maintaining campsites and controlling access to fragile dune and beach zones which were being damaged by vehicles, causing erosion and destroying wildlife habitats.
Dhimurru IPA is managed in line with the following International Union for Conservation of Nature category:
- Category V - Protected Landscape/Seascape: Protected Area managed mainly for landscape/seascape conservation and recreation.