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Wiyn-murrup yangarramela - ‘fire spirit comes back’ – Bannockburn Fire Brigade helps out.

In July 2015, Bannockburn CFA member Dale Smithyman travelled to Cape York to participate in an Indigenous Fire Workshop as part of his work with Golden Plains Shire Council.

Out of this trip grew Wiyn-murrup yangarramela, meaning ‘fire spirit comes back’ in local Wadawurrung language - a joint fire project lead by the Corangamite CMA with Traditional Owners Wadawurrung, Aboriginal community members of the region, Glenelg Hopkins CMA, Golden Plains Shire, Country Fire Authority, Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and Parks Victoria. 

The project was funded by the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme and recognises the strong socio-cultural needs of Traditional Owners and Aboriginal people in Victoria to connect with Country through fire practice.

Through the Corangamite CMA Indigenous Participation Program aspirations were expressed by Traditional Owners and Aboriginal community members of the Corangamite CMA region to re-learn and practice traditional Aboriginal burning.

It’s taken a long time but in April this year the project culminated in a Traditional Owner burn being conducted by Traditional Owners on Council land in Teesdale with Teesdale and Bannockburn CFA providing support.

The Traditional Owner burn was led by Ngarigo Elder, Uncle Rod Mason who conducted the burn demonstration at the Bakers Lane Reserve using Traditional methods and sharing his knowledge and skills in the unique fire practices of Australia’s First People. 

The Traditional owner burn was followed by a CFA burn using standard CFA techniques allowing participants to see and understand the two approaches to using fire in the landscape.

The Traditional Owner burn; initially planned to be conducted by Traditional Owners only, ended up being a wonderful sharing and learning experience with TO’s, CFA, DELWP, Council and others standing shoulder to shoulder in long grass, lighting and burning using traditional techniques. Bannockburn members were right in the thick of it lighting up.

Burning of Country provides a means of fulfilling cultural obligations to manage Country, as well as a way of maintaining wellbeing through traditions associated to the cleansing and healing of country through the appropriate use of fire.

Wiyn-murrup yangarramela is a first small step in bringing Traditional Owner burning back to Country.