Indigenous-led cultural burn promotes safety and heritage preservation at Daleys Point

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) completed a successful cultural burn at the Daleys Point Aboriginal Site in Bouddi National Park late last month.

A person in safety gear observing a forest fire. The image captures a scene of a forest fire with smoke and flames visible among the trees. A person wearing a helmet and high-visibility yellow jacket is standing, observing the fire, their back facing the camera. The environment is filled with thick smoke, illuminating the surroundings with an eerie glow. Trees and vegetation are partially engulfed in flames, indicating an ongoing wildfire. The ground is covered with grass and small plants, some of which are also affected by the fire.

The burn, which covered 1.1-hectare area, is a crucial component of a broader hazard reduction effort which aims to maintain safety and preserve the cultural heritage of the site.

The cultural burn was led by indigenous NPWS staff, Aboriginal community members, and the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC).

This event, designed as a ‘medicine burn,’ aimed to revive native grasses and vegetation that historically thrived in the area.

Traditional burn techniques, including the use of fire sticks instead of drip torches, were employed to ensure a cool, slow ‘medicine burn’, which will revive native grasses and vegetation that historically thrived in the area.

This careful approach was essential in preserving the site’s significant cultural features. Daleys Point Aboriginal Site protects over 20 rock engravings, charcoal drawings, axe grinding grooves, and a shell midden dating back over 5,000 years.

The cultural burn was Stage 2 of a larger hazard reduction plan for the area, following the successful completion of a 27.7 ha hazard reduction burn in November 2022.

It also complements the ongoing conservation work being undertaken at the site, including high lighting, drainage improvements and vegetation management, funded by the Aboriginal Partnership Program.

Quotes attributable to NPWS Central Coast Area Manager Steve Atkins:

This cultural burn was a valuable educational experience for everyone involved. For some of our NPWS staff, this was their first exposure to traditional burn techniques.

It was important for us to get this right, not only for the safety of the surrounding community but also to honour the cultural significance of the site.

We hope this collaboration between NPWS, the Darkinjung LALC, and members of the local Aboriginal community will be the first in a long line of future projects incorporating cultural knowledge into our land management practices.

Quotes attributable to Darkinjung LALC Culture, Heritage and Education Officer Jacob Cain:

I feel very honoured to be part of such a special day for not only the Indigenous Community but the whole Central Coast Community.

It was the best feeling to be back on Country doing what our old people once did on a regular basis to keep Country healthy and tidy.

The benefits from the fire will be so appreciated by our wildlife here on the coast and I hope we can do many more. I see NPWS and Darkinjung LALC working together in the near future on a lot more burns all over the Central Coast.

Workers in protective gear examining a forest area with a small fire. The image shows three individuals wearing protective clothing and helmets, in a forested area where there is visible fire and smoke. Two of the individuals are wearing yellow outfits and white helmets, they are bent over examining the ground near the fire. The third individual is standing upright, wearing a green outfit and a white helmet labeled 'NPWS'. The environment consists of trees with green leaves, dry grass, and fallen branches; it appears to be daytime with sunlight filtering through the trees. A small fire is burning amidst dry grass and branches on the ground; smoke is visible rising from the flames.

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