Working on Country

Working on Country funded projects - QLD

Projects in Queensland

Land and sea natural and cultural protection



"My dream is going to the bush, I feel strong there ....going out bush that's my kinda thing...on weekends I like taking kids out fishing and first time being a ranger, in two or three years I still want to work here, show new guys something, guide them through courses..."
Noel Omeenyo, Lockhart ranger

The Lockhart River Aboriginal Community is a remote region on the east coast of Cape York in far north Queensland. The area has a high diversity of ecosystems containing rare plants and animals, some of which are found nowhere else in Australia.

Traditional hunting, gathering and fishing practices continue along the coast, the Great Barrier Reef and its rich marine life is a mainstay of the community food supply.The area is bounded by rainforest, low mountain ranges and the mangrove-protected estuaries. Weed invasions and feral pests are contributing to the decline of the region's unique flora and fauna.

The Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council employs a team of Indigenous rangers and a coordinator to address environmental problems on the Mangkuma Land Trust associated with weeds and feral pests. They work out of the Kawadji-Kanidji Indigenous Natural Resource Land and Sea Management Centre. The team's activities include mapping weed infestations; implementing spraying programs; revegetating affected areas; and planning and implementing feral pest control programs.

Gidarjil Working on Country

Cats Claw weed infestation

Cats Claw weed infestation

Copyright: Kathleen Mackie

The Granite Creek area near Bundaberg in Queensland is the ancestral home of the Gurang clan. Part of the area is listed on the Directory of Important Wetlands for Australia. The area also has a history of timber harvesting and cattle grazing and the traditional owners through Gidarjil Development Corporation are planning to shift away from agricultural and forestry activities in the area towards restoration and protection of natural habitats and cultural heritage.

The Corporation employs a team of Aboriginal rangers and a project coordinator to develop a management plan as a first step towards implementing a weeds and pests eradication plan. Activities also include testing and improving the wetlands water quality, work to survey and record the area's biodiversity including re-establishing and expanding a protection corridor between two national parks; recovering an endangered eucalypt ecosystem; re-establishing, and setting up a traditional knowledge database.

Southern Gulf Fire and Weed project on Gangalidda country

Gangalidda country covers a coastal mainland region from Massacre Inlet to the Leichhardt River north east of Burketown on the Gulf of Carpentaria. The most important terrain feature of this coastal region is the undulating coastal plains that slopes gently towards the warm shallow seas of the Gulf. These plains also feature salt pans fronted by densely vegetated beach ridges which are carved with a remarkable number of steams and rivers.

The major weeds threatening the biodiversity and productivity of these systems are rubber vine and calotrope. Rubber vine now infests areas of most river systems in Queensland and calotrope is poisonous to humans and grows in dense thickets in the region. These weeds have become so thick that native trees and grasses cannot rejuvenate and it can be difficult for Traditional Owners to access areas of their country.

The Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation employs a team of Aboriginal rangers to implement a much needed weed and pest management plan on Gangalidda and Garawa country. Activities include mosaic fire burning to help contain seed spread, chemical control to tackle specific plants without contaminating water wells, and collection of information for GIS mapping systems.

Southern Gulf Fire and Weed project for Wellesley Islands & Implementation of the Thuwathu/Bujimulla Sea Country Plan by the Wellesley Island Rangers

Wellesley Islands IPA

Wellesley Islands IPA

Copyright: Jenifer Rahmoy

The Wellesley Islands are a group of about 30 low, continental islands. The seas around these islands are rich in animal and plant life and are heavily nutrient-enriched run-off. Rare and endangered animals and plants abound on the islands and in the surrounding waters. These include the loggerhead turtle, which is the most endangered turtle that nests in Australia, as well as the gray sharp-nosed shark, wide sawfish and a range of bird species.

Through Working on Country. The Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation employs a team of Aboriginal rangers will receive ongoing employment and training to provide a much needed weed and pest management plan on Wellesley Island country. Rangers monitor turtle and dugong sightingson two of the islands they undertake seagrass sampling and manage bird colonies. In addition to these activities, the rangers undertake protection of cultural sites and will continue to record traditional knowledge for future generations.

Case Study

Supporting sustainable incomes and environment for Kowanyama Aboriginal lands

Kowanyama, on the west coast of Cape York Peninsula, is located on the Mitchell River, one of the largest and ecologically diverse aquatic systems in Australia. The annual outflow rivals the Murray River system. The tidal mangrove swamps and waterways are an important fish breeding habitat that provides a basis for subsistence fisheries, lucrative recreation and a commercial fishing industry in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The region boasts Wetlands of National Significance, a number of threatened species and areas of cultural significance. However, the area also suffers from weeds of national significance and areas of threatened habitat and ecology.

The Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council manages and employs a team of rangers to protect the ecological and cultural assets of the area and to tackle environmental problems. Activities include field-based burning trials, spraying of invasive weeds, community education on feral pig control, ghost net recovery, wetland and waterway monitoring and protection, monitoring of threatened species and re-establishment of habitat, mapping cultural sites, managing access trails in sensitive areas, and managing visitation.

Kaanju Ngaachi Wenlock and Pascoe Rivers Working on Country Project

Courtesy of Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporation, Photo by K. Sale

Fire Management

Copyright: Courtesy of Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporation

The Wenlock and Pascoe Rivers on Cape York Peninsula are home or "Ngaachi" to the Kaanju people. The region features open savanna, upland tropical and sub-tropical rainforests, open bushland, sand ridge country and vast wetland areas and riparian forests.

The region has been facing a number of challenges including land degradation and erosion, weed and feral animal infestation and damage to cultural areas from unregulated public access. The Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporation which manages the area has developed a management plan to deal with these challenges.

The Corporation employs a team of rangers to undertake activities that include, maintenance of designated camping areas; fencing off sensitive areas to protect them from feral pigs, horses and cattle; monitoring, mapping and reducing feral pig numbers; rehabilitating 15,000 hectares currently over-run by weeds; and conducting fire management and establishing fire breaks.

The Torres Strait Indigenous Ranger Program

Rangers meeting with Mentor to discuss Badu Island, Torres Strait project.  Photo: Rebecca Clear. Copyright: Torres Strait Regional Authority

Rangers meeting with Mentor to discuss Badu Island, Torres Strait project

Photo: Rebecca Clear
Copyright: Torres Strait Regional Authority

The Torres Strait Islands, lie in the Torres Strait, the waterway separating far northern continental Australia's Cape York Peninsula and the island of New Guinea. This project encompasses eight Torres Strait Island communities: Badu, Boigu, Erub, Iama, Kaiwalagal, Mabuiag, Mer and Moa with community based ranger groups providing environmental services. Over the coming year the Torres Strait Indigenous Ranger Program will be rolled out to the remaining inhabited island communities in the Torres Strait.

Indigenous rangers are employed to undertake environmental work on both sea and land including researching and surveying significant coastal and marine habitats, seed collection and plant propagation and managing sea country.

For many saltwater communities like the Torres Strait, the land and sea are intrinsic to identity and the work of the rangers is in many ways about maintaining country, identity and culture.

The rangers are also responsible for identifying and implementing the sustainable management of dugong and turtle within their community based sea country plans. Dugong and turtle have very significant roles in Ailan kastom bilong Torres Strait (Torres Strait Islander culture) and have been a traditional food source for thousands of years.

Lama Lama Rangers - Improved Management of Running Creek Nature Reserve

The Lama Lama National Park is in the Cape York Peninsula bioregion, and is located east of the Great Dividing Range. The region includes highly significant wetlands, coastal and riparian vegetation, and extensive woodlands. There has been little clearing and the tree cover remains virtually intact and contains habitat for vulnerable, rare and endangered species including the endangered red goshawk.

The Lama Lama Land Trust was established under Queensland's Aboriginal Land Act 1991 to hold in trust Running Creek on behalf of the traditional owners. The Conservation Agreement between the Lama Lama Land Trust and the Queensland Government to establish the Running Creek Nature Refuge provides the framework for the Lama Lama rangers to manage the ecosystems and habitats.

Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation in partnership with the Lama Lama Land Trust employ Indigenous rangers to focus on land management works in the Lama Lama Land Trust which includes Running Creek Nature Refuge and surrounding Aboriginal freehold land in Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. The rangers work also includes assessing and documenting the natural and cultural values; managing and implementing key environmental activities.

Improved Management on Mt Croll Refuge on Toolka Land Trust

The Mt Croll Nature Reserve and surrounding Aboriginal freehold land is located in Cape York Peninsula of north Queensland. This area is approximately 17,990 hectares of pristine ecosystems of which 5,132 hectares is currently part of the National Reserve System as Nature Refuge under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992.

Through Working on Country Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation in partnership with the Kalan Aboriginal Corporation and the Toolka Land Trust employ Indigenous rangers to implement environmental activities that align with the Working on Country priorities of Keeping Country Healthy and Protecting Heritage.

The Conservation Agreement between the Toolka Land Trust and the Queensland Government to establish the Mt Croll Nature Refuge provides the framework for the rangers land management plan which includes environmental works such as weed and feral animal control, fire and grazing management and some specific objectives to manage the ecosystems and habitats identified in the Conservative Agreement.

Mapoon Land and Sea Centre

The Western Cape York Peninsula beaches of North Queensland are the home of a nationally listed important wetland as well as 18 threatened species and 75 listed marine species, such as the Flat Back, Green, Olive Ridley, and Hawksbill marine turtles.

In 1989, a Deed of Grant of Land in Trust covering 1,839 square kilometres was handed back to the Mapoon people by the Queensland Government.

The Mapoon Land and Sea Centre is responsible for the management of land and sea Mapoon on Cape York Peninsula. The community is situated on the traditional lands of the Tjungundji people, with Mapoon Aboriginal Shire Council acting in partnership with the traditional owners.

The Centre employs Indigenous rangers and a coordinator to undertake a range of environmental works including the development of a traditional knowledge and cultural heritage geographic information system (GIS) database, weed and feral animal control, the protection and conservation of wetlands, controlling visitor access, re-introduction of traditional fire management, crocodile surveys and water quality monitoring.

The aim of the Mapoon people is that their land and sea centre becomes a secure place where future economic growth can be realised.

Nyungkal Ranger Service

Kuku Nyungkal country in north-east Queensland consists of World Heritage listed wet tropical waterways, mountains, forests, and seas in a part of north-east Queensland that is rich in nationally and internationally significant biological and cultural diversity.

The Nyungkal Indigenous rangers are implementing the Kuku Nyungkal country-based plan which set out the Kuku Nyungkal people's vision for the future. Their vision is for their Bubu (country) is to relocate back to country and take up our birth rights and obligations to manage and care for land, sea and culture".

A significant number of Nyungkal traditional owners have completed or are currently undertaking Certificate IV in Conservation and Land Management training. The Nyungkal rangers are employed to work on land and sea monitoring, including boating and fishing activities and pollution, traditional knowledge recording; protection of rare and endangered species; collection of environmental data and management of traditional hunting and gathering practices.

The project is managed by Balkanu Cape York Development in partnership with Bana Yarralji Aboriginal Corporation on behalf of the traditional owners.

Queensland Murray-Darling Basin Community Rangers program

This unique project showcases reconciliation in action with the Queensland Murray-Darling Committee working with eight Aboriginal traditional owner groups and up to 60 landowners across the region to implement the traditional owner's Caring for Country Plan.

The region crosses a wide geographical area and reaches from Goondiwindi to Mitchell to Tara in Queensland.

The Committee has established and is coordinating three natural resource management Aboriginal rangers teams in Dirranbandi, St George and Inglewood. The rangers themselves are continuing to work with traditional owner groups as they implement a range of environmental projects on a variety of land tenures - some 10 million hectares. The rangers are focusing on projects to keep country healthy, to protect heritage and to conserve, maintain, manage and repair the environment.

The Queensland Murray-Darling Committee and the traditional owner groups through their Working on Country project aim to provide the basis for long-term employment and build small business opportunities for Aboriginal communities and individuals.

Mandingalbay Yidinji Rangers: Implementing People, Country and Culture Programs

Mandingalbay Yidinji country in far north Queensland covers some 40 kilometres of coastline and includes two World Heritage Areas, a nationally threatened ecological community and a large number of nationally threatened and/or migratory species.

The project has seen the development of a sustainable ranger service on Mandingalbay Yidinji country comprised of fa team of Aboriginal rangers and one coordinator. This team plays a key role in the management of the area through tasks such as invasive animal and plant control, protection and management of significant sites, revegetation and rehabilitation and fire management.

The work of the rangers is not confined to environmental management as the project is also in the process of developing a traditional ecological knowledge recording program and keeping place. This will assist with documenting, recording and transferring Mandingalbay Yidinji knowledge and culture from current to future generations. Rangers will also perform other occasional activities such as exchange visits and liaising with schools and communities.

Bunya Mountains Murri Ranger Project

Bunya Mountains Murri Rangers

Bunya Mountains Murri Rangers

Copyright: Nora Brandli

Located in south east Queensland, the Bunya Mountains hold immense cultural and environmental significance. They are one of the few places in south east Queensland where an Aboriginal fire managed cultural landscape is evident and were previously the centre for huge gatherings of Aboriginal people attending the Bonye Bonye festival; a time of feasting, ceremony, trading, betrothals and dispute settlement. In addition to this, the Bunya Mountains are home to a unique assemblage of plants, animals and ecosystems including more than 30 rare and threatened species.

Under the Bunya Mountains Murri Ranger project a team of Aboriginal rangers and a coordinator work to maintain and strengthen the cultural heritage and environmental integrity of this region for future generations.

The ranger team is currently working to manage and protect the unique Bunya Mountains environment. For example, they are undertaking a works program to manage the threatened grassland bald ecosystems - which developed as a direct result of traditional Aboriginal burning practices - by surveying and recording flora, fauna, condition and boundaries and then mapping this against historical data. They are also involved in heritage site management, including identification of culturally significant areas in consultation with the Bunya Council of Elders.

Girringun Rangers

Girringun Aboriginal Corporation

The Girringun Aboriginal Corporation represents nine Traditional Owner groups that have connection to traditional land and sea estates, which stretch from Ingham in the South, to Innisfail in the north, and inland to the Great Dividing Range and townships of Tully and Cardwell.

Girringun Land and Sea Rangers is a project managed by the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation.The project seeks to deliver environmental services across land and sea country in north-eastern Queensland including in the wet tropics bioregion, the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, the Great Barrier Reef and the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. These areas all contain unique and enduring natural and cultural values.

The Girringun Ranger team aims to be a sustainable ranger service and is currently working to implement plans of management and agreements for keeping Girringun country healthy. The rangers also play a key role in the preservation of traditional ecological knowledge, maintaining significant cultural heritage sites, participating in research activities and raising the profile of Aboriginal natural and cultural resource management in the area through community liaison.

Yuku-Baja-Muliku Caring for Country Program

Yuku Baja Muliku Team Photo by Yuku Naja Muliku

Yuku Baja Muliku Team

Copyright: Yuku Naja Muliku

Under this project an Aboriginal ranger team and coordinator undertake enviornmental and cultural activities on Yuku-Baja-Muliku lands at Archer Point, Cooktown, Queensland.

Activites include on-ground management, cultural heritage mapping, heritage site management, and assisting key government agencies to better negotiate, develop and implement culturally appropriate (and informed) management plans and practices for existing (and new) protected areas in Yuku-Baja-Muliku country.