Working for our Wabarl
2023 Project Update
In the late spring a small orange and yellow wildflower, known as the Mallee flower blooms just when the Wabarl (mallee fowl) lays their eggs. Using the seasons and the changes in the environment to find sources of food, like the Wabarl egg, has always been a common traditional practice for Badimia people. When the old people visited the Wabarl’s nest, they only took the small amount of egg’s they needed, leaving the rest to ensure the continuation of the Wabarl. Now Badimia people are helping with the continuation of the Wabarl and Badimia cultural knowledge in a different way through conservation and cultural exchange initiatives, like the Wabarl project, a concept which is in its second year for Badimia barna (country).
This year, with Federal government funding allocated via Rangelands NRM, the Badimia Bandi Barna Aboriginal Corporation (BBBAC) worked in collaboration with the Western Mulga Rangers, and landholders on Badimia barna to carry out the Wabarl project which took place over three weeks from the 22nd May to 9th June 2023. Badimia Elders Darryl Fogarty, Allan Leggerini, Ashley Bell, David Clinch, Gloria Fogarty (working in her capacity as the Badimia Ranger for Australian Wildlife Conservancy at Mt Gibson) and Grahame Fogarty worked alongside the Western Mulga Rangers, for a second year, as part of a cultural exchange program.
What They Did
The Wabarl project began at Charles Darwin Reserve, hosted by Bush Heritage Australia and involved among other activities, Badimia Elders and the Rangers cleaning out gabi-daah’s (rockholes). This is a significant practice that must be done often to keep the gabi-daah clean for Bimarra, our creation serpent, and to ensure there is water available for the animals and birds in the area. During this work, they searched for artefacts around the gabi-daah’s such as cutting stones which demonstrate our Old People inhabiting these locations. Elders and Rangers took time to wanggaya (to talk) around the wajun (fire) in the evening, talking about bush tucker like bardi grubs and bimba (gum), particularly what is safe to eat and where it can be found, and teaching Badimia language to the visiting Rangers. The Badimia Elders also shared information about bush medicine and traditional practices in preparing and using.
Photo: Badimia Elder looks on while Rangers clear out a gabi-daah on Charles Darwin Reserve. Credit: Bush Heritage Australia
The second week of the project took the Western Mulga Rangers and Badimia Elders to Ninghan Station. At Ninghan the Rangers were taught about various bush tucker including hunting for bimba, and were shown by the Elders how to get a kangaroo and prepare it for cooking and eating. They also took part in land management activities by examining the cat traps that are set up to monitor the Wabarl nests on Ninghan Station. Elders spoke about the old days when they lived on Badimia barna, reviving their memories of bush survival, via fascinating yarns.
The final week of the project was held at Mt Gibson, hosted by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy Team, and which is home to several significant Badimia cultural sites. As part of this cultural exchange, the Rangers were taken to Red Hands, Mushroom Rock and the closed men’s site on Lake Moore, with the guidance of the male Badimia Elders.
How It Went
‘It was very good to meet young Aboriginal men who were respectful and interested in being on barna and learning about culture. As Elders, Allen and I enjoyed being out here with them’. Uncle Darryl Fogarty, Badimia Elder and BBBAC Chairperson (Charles Darwin Reserve).
Photo: Elders and Rangers took time to wanggaya (to talk) and connect. Credit: Bush Heritage Australia
‘It’s really great, fantastic – particularly when the young Rangers are taking notice and soaking up their culture. I noticed that the young men look out for one another, particularly if there is a good story being told or cultural information being shared, as they don’t want anyone to miss out,’ Uncle Ashley Bell, Badimia Elder and BBBAC Director (Ninghan Station).
This cultural exchange between Badimia Elders and the Western Mulga Rangers was an enjoyable and successful experience.
The Elders had the chance to open the eyes of a younger generation to all dimensions of the bush and to see the sky, land and water landscapes through a cultural lens. Our Elders involved would like to work together again and hopefully ensure the Wabarl project continues on, to care for the Warbal and barna, but also to build upon developing future Badimia cultural leaders and educators.
Thank you to Rangelands NRM for supporting this project.
Writer credit: Ms Naomi Fogarty, Badimia woman & BBBAC Member
When reviewing their link to the Wabarl project, the BBBAC have noted alignments with their Strategic Plan and Healthy Country Plan. Below is a brief snapshot of their journey so far.
With the wabarl being a threatened species, this work is for the Badimia kids, so they will be able to see the wabarl in its natural habitat rather than as an extinct species in a glass case!
The cultural Badimia site protection and conservation projects support healthy country and culture and has strong links to the Healthy Country Plan.
This project supports the Healthy Country targets of Badimia culture and cultural places and Badimia people, by having Elders on site when out on barna and discussing site and land management. It also supports targets Plants when talking about management of invasive weeds and Animals, as the Project Team’s purpose was protection of the wabarl and its habitat, as it is an animal/bird that is threatened and in need of special conservation.
Supporting key strategies for BBBAC, two Badimia Elders (BBBAC Board Members and Members) were engaged with the Rangers at each of the locations, demonstrating good governance through commitment to the project, partnerships and people visiting our barna, a strong Badimia voice in asserting an interest in barna and sharing the Badimia story and cultural knowledge but also connecting with the work being done by Teams of young Aboriginal Rangers and Supervisors, and guiding cultural safety. There was also an opportunity to support jobs and business development towards sustainability by encouraging the work done by Western Mulga and learning what would work for Badimia people.