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JungkaJungka Woodlands Festival: Indigenous Knowledge


 A Ngadju ranger holds some recently eradicated noogoora burr (ABC Rural: Tara De Landgrafft) A Ngadju ranger holds some recently eradicated noogoora burr (ABC Rural: Tara De Landgrafft)
Words by: Soraya Bozzetto

Aboriginal history and Stewardship of the Great Western Woodlands

Aboriginal people have lived in the Great Western Woodlands for at least 22,000 years and their close relationship with this land is still alive today.

According to traditional rules and customs, Aboriginal people are responsible for the management of this land now and into the future. These traditions focus on principles of respect and preservation for long-term sustainable use. They are incorporated into dance, song and dreaming stories, and into the regulation of traditional use of the land’s varied resources.

In his map of 1940, well-known anthropologist Norman Tindale identified the traditional lands of nine different language groups within the boundary of what is now the Great Western Woodlands. These are the Kalaako, Kelamia, Maduwongga, Mirning, Nadjunmaia, Njakinjaki, Njunga, Tjeraridjal and Wudjari. Much of the area is subject to eight separate native title claims. 

James Schultz: Aboriginal Elder / Ngadju TourJames Schultz: Aboriginal Elder / Ngadju Tour

The largest of these is the Ngadju claim, covering nearly seven million hectares within the boundary of the Great Western woodlands. There are also a number of unregistered claims in the area.

Come to Jungkajungka Festival and be part of a Ngadju guided tour!

The Traditional Owners of a large part of the Great Western Woodlands, the Ngadju People, retain their knowledge of and connection to country. After an 18-year process, approximately 102,000 square kilometres surrounding Norseman was officially declared a Ngadju native title area by the Honourable Justice Marshall.

Ngadju elder Sonny Graham was one of the people involved in starting the native title action almost two decades ago. "We can pass on our cultures, this is the important thing, to our children," he says.

At the Jungkajungka Festival, you will have the opportunity to learn about the local indigenous languages and the Ngadju conservation program with Mr Les Schultz. Mr Les Schultz is the coordinator of Ngadju Conservation and is passionate about seeing his people look after their land. He believes that Norseman needs to come together and work towards a better future for future generations. 

‘’I really like to work out on country, out there for my land, and give back to my culture.’’

Phillip Coghlan, Ngadju ranger team member

Nadju watertree near Norseman. Photo Donna MalecIMAGE: Nadju watertree near Norseman | Donna Malec

Ngadju Conservation is working with the broader Ngadju community to increase understanding of conservation and land management opportunities and assist in building capacity to achieve them.

Aboriginal people still camp and collect bush food in this region. There are significant sites and other physical reminders of this living association throughout the Great Western Woodlands.

Water trees were created when groups moving through an area jammed a rock into the fork of a sapling to create a bowl at the base of the multiple stems. As the tree grew, larger rocks were substituted until a sizable water dish was formed to provide vital pools of water in a dry landscape.