‘Yurung Dhaura’ team

SACTCG Waterwatch group profile

‘Yurung Dhaura’, Ngunnawal for ‘Strong Earth’, is the name chosen by the ACT Natural Resource Management Council’s first Indigenous trainee team. Beginning in March 2011 the four trainees (Adam Shipp, Greg Chatfield, Krystal Hurst and Jake Lester) are working towards the nationally recognised Certificate III in ‘Conservation and Land Management’ and will graduate in March 2013.

Their focus has mostly been practical work in the Cotter River and Paddy’s River catchments but they have also been involved in a whole host of cultural initiatives in the ACT. As members of Murumbung Yurung Murra (Ngunnawal for Good Strong Pathways) a network of Indigenous staff working in the fields of heritage, land and natural resource management in the ACT Government, the Yurung Dhaura team have assisted deliver presentations at various events including Floriade, the Indigenous Showcase at the Multicultural Festival and Tidbinbilla Extravaganza.

The team is funded under the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country program ($877,000 over two years to support environmental restoration in the Cotter Catchment) and are employed in the ACT Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate and hosted within the ACT Parks and Conservation Service (PCS).

The team have been mentored by the PCS Ngunnawal Country Ranger Adrian Brown in cultural interpretation, and worked closely with him to conduct quite a few tours for groups to Tidbinbilla. Having worked for several months rehabilitating a significant site in the Pierce’s Creek area featuring a stand of (i)Xanthorrhoeas, the team has also hosted tours for both Federal and Local government officials to the site.

They have also completed significant work including an area of fencing at the soon to be Ngunnawal Bush Healing Farm (Miowera).

They have also been involved in the production of a book on Ngunnawal plant use in partnership with the Ngunnawal community, Greening Australia and other Murrumbung Yurung Murra staff, participated in several cultural workshops with Aboriginal Elders and attended a workshop on Indigenous land management including an experience conducting a cultural burn with Ngarigo Elder Rod Mason. Team member, Krystal Hurst has assisted on an archiving project for the Namadgi Rock Art Working Group, painstakingly photographing, scanning and cataloguing artefacts and other items.

On wet days, you will find the team working at the PCS Stromlo depot making cultural artefacts and Indian Myna bird traps.

Greg "Chattie" Chatfield at the Cotter River

The team list a smorgasbord of skills they have developed and work they have undertaken since beginning their traineeship, including acquiring chainsaw and chemical use certificates, tree planting, weed control, repair of eroded sites, removing European wasp nests, pig baiting, fencing and kangaroo population surveying and seed propagation for ActewAGL among many others. They are also committed members of the Waterwatch program, monitoring three sites in both the Cotter and Paddy’s River sub-catchments.

They caused a stir last year when they caught fingerling fish while doing a macroinvertebrate survey at Vanity’s Crossing on the Cotter River. The fish was first thought to be a redfin perch, carrier of the deadly EHN virus that could decimate native populations in the river. As the Cotter River is thought to be redfin free this created a flurry of activity to confirm the species. Fortunately it turned out to be a trout fingerling. I was going to say a ‘red herring’ but this would be worse than one of Chattie’s jokes!

Yurung Dhaura at Vanity's Crossing

If you are interested in finding out more about Yurung Dhaura or indeed any of our Waterwatch activities please contact Martin Lind, the Waterwatch Coordinator on 6296 6400, or email waterwatch@sactcg.org.au.