Working on Country

Working on Country funded projects - SA

Projects in South Australia

Ngarrindjeri Working on Ruwe (Country)

Coorong National Park

Coorong National Park

Photo: Andrew Copus

Ngarrindjeri respect the gifts of creation that Ngunrunderi passed down to our Spiritual Ancestors, our elders and to us. Ngarrindjeri must follow the traditional laws; we must respect and honour the lands, waters and all living things.
Extract from Yarluwar-Ruwe Plan

The Coorong is home to 18 Ngarrindjeri tribes, who have been living along the Coorong since it was created. The Ngarrindjeri culture and traditions and the Coorong are inextricably linked. Across the landscape are middens and sacred sites including burial grounds.

The Coorong and Lower Lakes lie on the south east coast of South Australia. It is the scenic gateway to the Limestone Coast and the name is taken from the Aboriginal word "kurangh" meaning "narrow neck."

The Coorong is a beautiful yet fragile ecosystem and encompases almost 47,000 hectares of great diversity and stunning scenery including a Ramsar Wetland of International Significance. The shallow lagoons and waterways are a sanctuary for a diversity of animals and fish and more than 200 bird species including the largest breeding colony of the Australian pelican.

The Ngarrindjeri Land and Progress Association manages 20 square kilometres of land, including 30 kilometres of coastline along the Coorong and the Lower Lakes. The Ngarrindjeri have developed a sea country and culture plan, Yarluwar-Ruwe Plan, to guide work on some of the environmental challenges of the region. Work undertaken by the Working on Country Aboriginal rangers includes revegetation of land and feral animal management, protection of endangered species and culturally significant plants and animals including burial grounds.

The Ngarrindjeri rangers have been trained in cultural survey work to help in the repatriation of more than 300 old people to burial sites around the Coorong. This is an undertaking of great significance for both the rangers and their community.

Raukkan Natural Resource Management project

Raukkan block revegetation

Raukkan block revegetation

Photo: Neville Bonney

The Ngopamuldi Aboriginal Corporation was established in 2004 to increase the capacity of Aboriginal people to participate in the management of natural resources throughout South Australia. The Ngopamuldi Aboriginal Corporation is situated at Raukkan on Lake Alexandrina near the Coorong and Murray Mouth.

A priority of the Ngopamuldi Aboriginal Corporation is to rehabilitate at least 4.5 square kilometres of land in the area, whilst protecting culturally sensitive sites. The land lies within a Ramsar Wetland of International Significance.

The Raukkan ranger's supported by Working on Country continue to practice traditional cultural land management whilst working on their country. They have identified and surveyed burial sites in association with the Ngopamuldi Aboriginal Corporation and Flinders University and have undertaken significant weed control work around the Teringie Wetland. Their work is providing long-term control of environmental weeds such as boxthorn and artichoke thistle; re-establishing off-shore reed beds to prevent erosion; re-snagging the wetlands and lake edge with trees for fish habitat and reinstating historical water flow connections.

Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Ranger Program

Eric Abbott and Thomas Tjiliya spraying Buffel grass

Eric Abbott and Thomas Tjiliya spraying Buffel grass

Photo: Gordon Sanders

The remote north-west corner of South Australia is home to Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara and Ngaanyatjarra speaking peoples - who collectively call themselves Anangu.

Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Land Management works with traditional owners to preserve the ecological health of an area of almost 103,000 square kilometres. This area is part of the APY Lands which covers some 350,000 square kilometres and stretches across the state borders of South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

The APY Lands is also important in a cultural sense, as it is an area of unbroken occupation by Anangu. Through continual, traditional land management - deeply rooted in cultural and spiritual practices - Anangu have a thorough understanding of the ecology of their country.

Across the APY lands lie plants nationally listed as vulnerable and a number of species nationally listed as threatened. These species include the Black-footed Rock wallaby Petrogale lateralis, Great Desert Skink Liopholis kintorei, Marsupial Mole Notoryctes typhlops and Mallee Fowl Leipoa ocellata. In 2011 APY's Warru (Black footed Rock Wallaby) Recovery Team won the National NAIDOC Caring for Country Award.

By providing opportunities for Anangu to deliver environmental services that protect and manage these nationally important species, APY can provide training and career pathways for people in land management throughout the region.

APY Land Management employs two groups of Working on Country rangers to work within the Kalka-Pipalyatjara and Antara-Sandy Bore IPA Indigenous Protected Areas. The rangers are responsible for implementation of their environmental management plans. This includes working on habitat protection and wildfire suppression by increasing patch burning, monitoring and controlling predators, improving visitor management, linking with research projects on threatened species and securing water supplies by maintaining rock holes. A vital activity for the rangers is to share traditional ecological knowledge with younger Anangu as they work together on their country.

Yalata IPA Ranger Program



The Yalata Indigenous Protected Area lies at the edge of the Great Victoria Desert on the southern margin of Australia's majestic Nullarbor Plain and covers 4,563 square kilometres of coastal dunes, limestone cliffs, sand plains and shrublands. The Indigenous Protected Area contains the largest unbroken tract of coastal mallee/woodland vegetation in the world.

Yalata's traditional owners comprise Kokata, Antakarinja, Pindiini, and Ngalea western desert peoples. These groups are linked through cultural affiliations and traditional practices. The Yalata community identify as southern Anangu, and speak a Pitjantjatjara dialect. The Indigenous Protected Area is held by the South Australian Aboriginal Lands Trust and leased and managed by Yalata Community Incorporated.

With the area threatened by feral pests and weeds and inappropriate tourist activity, the team of Aboriginal rangers supported by Working on Country undertake work collecting seeds for revegetation, removing debris from beaches, fencing and maintaining campsites and managing visitor access to sensitive coastal areas.

Working on our Yarta in the Northern Flinders Ranges

Nantawarinna spreads across 58,000 hectares of rugged terrain between the Flinders Ranges and Gammon Ranges National Parks in South Australia. It is a key attraction for visitors as they pass through the ranges. Nantawarrina is Australia's first declared Indigenous Protected Area.

The Nantawarrina Indigenous Protected Area is managed by the Adnyamathanha people of the Nepabunna Aboriginal community and land titles are held by the South Australian Aboriginal Lands Trust. The Indigenous Protected Area is of great cultural significance to the people as a birthplace, traditional tribal territory and a place of mythologically important sites.

The focus of Nantawarrina's traditional owners is to create a balance between conservation of natural and culture heritage, and economic sustainability for the benefit of future generations.

As an Indigenous Protected Area and with funding from Working on Country for a team of Aboriginal rangers, Nantawarinna continues to grow with employment and training opportunities for rangers.

The Nantawarrina rangers' work includes a focus on cultural and ecological conservation using both traditional knowledge and modern land management practices. They survey, monitor, map and record the natural and cultural values.

Warru Kaninytjaku Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara

Eric Abbott radio tracking

Eric Abbott radio tracking

Photo: Jasmina Muhic

The Black-footed Rock-wallaby or Warru (Petrogale lateralis) as it is known by Anangu, the traditional owners of the region, once lived all over the rocky hills of the APY Lands. However, due to predation and changes in fire regimes, the Warru is now one of South Australia's most endangered species. Ongoing concerns by Anangu for the declining warru population have resulted in their employment of rangers to work alongside scientists in efforts to recover the population.

The rangers work in accordance with the South Australian Warru Recovery Plan by monitoring warru survival rates and conducting predator control and fire management activities. The Warru Recovery Program also involves the management of a 100ha predator exclosure on the APY Lands which serves as a hardening off site for captive bred warru prior to their release into the wild. Since March 2011, sixteen captive warru have been released into this exclosure and their survival is closely monitored by the rangers. The rangers not only focus on recovery of this threatened and culturally significant species, but on educating young Anangu about caring for country and maintaining culture.

The successful collaboration between the APY Land Management warru rangers and scientists has resulted in the Warru Recovery Team winning the 2011 NAIDOC Caring for Country Award.

For more information visit Warru Recovery Program .

Riverland Rangers Program - Protecting significant cultural and environmental sites on the River Murray, SA



Photo: Rob Walter

Managed by the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resource Management Board

The Riverland Ranger team work on privately held properties along the Murray Darling Basin in South Australia, Calperum Station and Kurlana. These properties contain significant environmental and heritage sites. Calperum Station is home to a Ramsar listed wetland.

Calperum Station with nearby Taylorville Station form part of the Riverland Biosphere Reserve, which is located in the Riverland area of South Australia. The Riverland Biosphere Reserve was previously known as the 'Bookmark' Biosphere Reserve, a name derived from the Aboriginal word Pukumako meaning flint stone axe or sandstone grit hole. In 1993, Calperum Station, near Renmark in South Australia, comprising of 242,800 hectares, was purchased by the Chicago Zoological Society with assistance from the Australian Government. Calperum and Taylorville Stations are part the National Reserve System, Australia's network of protected areas comprising of 98 million hectares, nearly 13 percent of our continent.

The Riverland rangers carry out most of their environmental and conservation work on Calperum Station and significant Mallee and Murray River wetlands. The Mallee scrubland of Australia is one of the most endangered vegetation types in the world.

Kurlana is owned by Lifeflow Meditation Centre. The property includes a 315 hectare Heritage Agreement listed block of remnant mallee vegetation and is home to a number of National and State listed vulnerable species, including Mallee Fowl Leipoa ocellata. The Riverland rangers are working to revegetate 10 hectares of cleared land on Kurlana for addition to the wildlife corridor.

Restoring and protecting the wetlands is important environmental work for the Riverland rangers who aim to improve the quality and extent of the wetlands. The rangers also restore and protect nesting and foraging sites for the nationally vulnerable Regent Parrot. They assist the Bookmark Mallee Fire Management Plan and undertake monitoring of groundwater and surface water quality of the wetlands. They also collect seed from local native remnant vegetation and maintain a seed bank in their extensive nursery.

To support the rangers' professional development and improve their skills, they also undertake accredited training in conservation and land management. The rangers are trained in database management for their wetland management monitoring activities.

Indigenous Ranger Program in the Gawler Ranges Native Title Area managed by South Australian Native Title Services

The Gawler Ranges project focuses on an area of 7,589 square kilometres within the Gawler Ranges native title area. This area includes a number of significant sites such as the Gawler Ranges National Park, Lake Gairdner National Park and Lake Gillies Conservation Reserve and some 30 pastoral leases. A variety of different habitats such as mallee, chenopod scrublands and semi-arid rangelands and several threatened species, including the yellow-footed rock wallaby, are found in these areas.

This Working on Country project engages traditional owners from the Gawler Ranges Native Title Claim Group in the management of resources within the native title area. The Native Title Claim Group has good working partnerships with a range of stakeholders including the SA Government and neighbouring pastoralists.

Currently, one Indigenous coordinator and three Indigenous rangers are employed, trained and mentored by the SA Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), bringing together traditional and contemporary approaches to land management. The rangers manage and preserve the natural and cultural values of the area by working on activities like weed and feral animal control, fire management and visitor management, as well as work identifying, protecting and interpreting cultural heritage sites.