Destination – Kakadu I of III
Riding into Kakadu National Park late in the day a thick band of smoke haze hung high in the air above the trees. A rich red sun could be seen through the smoke when looking back down the Arnhem Highway in a westly direction.
The Role of Fire
‘Aboriginal people have burned country for tens of thousands of years. The ancestors gave them a cultural obligation to look after and clean up country, a duty handed down from generation to generation. Signs in nature told them of the time to burn, a time when minimal harm would be done to country but huge benefits would be gained.
Their ongoing traditional management of country is recognised in Kakadu’s World Heritage listing.
Balanda (non-Aboriginal people) are now starting to realise the value of this age-old Aboriginal knowledge. In some areas where no burning took place, noticeable harm was done. Now that traditional burning is back, the landscape is once again abundant with native flora and fauna. These days conservation managers across the top of Australia are using traditional patch burning in the cooler weather, to prevent wildfires, to repair country and to encourage biodiversity to recover.’
Source: Kakadu National Park Visitor’s Guide page 24.
Aurora Kakadu Resort and camping ground
The kitchen sink.
Early morning reading…
Early morning visit to the South Alligator river.
This photo of the banks of the South Alligator river has an eery resemblance to a crocodile.
Buladjang – ‘Sickness Country’
A sign up at Ubirr touches on some serious issues that tie in with local Aboriginal belief about Sickness Country.
Kakadu National Park – Park Notes
“Much of this region is known to the Jawoyn as Buladjang or sickness country. Jawoyn say that if people disturb Buladjang country they will become unwell.
Scientists say a correlation can be made between the location of potentially harmful mineral deposits such as uranium and the location of major Bula sites.”
Source: Gunlom Park Notes
Visitors to Kakadu can make it quite close to the formerly controversial mine known as Coronation Hill.
Excerpt about Coronation Hill
‘The bitterness of the dispute over mining at Coronation Hill reflects sharply divergent worldviews of the protagonists, a difference that was particularly evident in the arguments over the integrity of the national park and the importance that should be attached to the Bula beliefs of the Jawoyn. The two worldviews are essentially irreconcilable.‘ p. 4
‘When white and Aboriginal Australians meet over resource use issues, there are often dramatic differences in perceptions of appropriate negotiation and decision making procedures. This has certainly been true of the disputes over Coronation Hill and Jabiluka. White Australians often become frustrated and impatient, believing that they have consulted thoroughly yet cannot get a timely and unambiguous answer to
the key questions from traditional owners.’ p 8.
‘In the end, the decision on mining at Coronation Hill hinged on the likely impact of the decision on the 300 or so Jawoyn people who claimed traditional ownership of the land that included the Conservation Zone. From this perspective, the most important feature of Coronation Hill was that it is a registered sacred site.’ p. 9