Traditional Owners Grants helping to protect land and preserve knowledge.

Five Traditional Owner groups in the Burdekin Dry Tropics region have been carrying out projects to manage landscapes and preserve cultural heritage thanks to NQ Dry Tropics’ Traditional Owner Grants programme.

The Jangga, Wiri, Gia, Birriah and Jagalingou groups have shared a total of $25,000 of grants funding, supported through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

The grants are designed to increase Traditional Owner participation in natural resource management, and have been used to carry out activities such as managing weeds, preserving elder stories and recording archaeological finds.

The Gia Traditional Owner Group has been working to manage weeds and plant mature native trees around a culturally-significant Gia midden site at Edgecome Bay, near Bowen. They are also erecting a sign that explains the significance of the site to their people, as well as carbon dating information about its age. They are being supported in this work by the Gudjuda Reference Group Aboriginal Corporation.

Gia member Sheryl Wake said the project was supporting the Gia people to look after country:

“This project is enabling Gia Traditional Owners to continue our custodial responsibilities by maintaining culturally-significant sites. These activities support a continued connection to Gia country whilst raising awareness of Aboriginal culture within the local community,” she said.

NQ Dry Tropics Strategy and Partnerships Manager, Donna Turner, said it was crucial to support Traditional Owner groups to care for country and preserve their ecological and cultural knowledge:

“The Burdekin Dry Tropics region has a rich Indigenous history, and Traditional Owners have by far the longest and deepest connection with country,” she said.

“Our recently-released Natural Resource Management Plan (NRM Plan) emphasises the importance of incorporating traditional ecological knowledge into NRM strategic decision making and on-ground works. This both maintains Traditional Owners’ strong connection to country and better protects and manages our region’s natural resources,” she said.

Main photo – Members of the Gia project team managing weeds at the midden site.