For country to be healthy, it needs to have people actively managing it: maintaining and using the knowledge about country that has been passed on for many, many generations. We call country ‘empty’ when the landowners for a clan estate no longer visit and walk on their country. It means the right people are not there to use, maintain and assist with the customary flow of knowledge about their country, to look after their culturally important places, to manage fire in the right way or to harvest resources.
In 1957, the government established the community of Maningrida at Manayingkarírra, and since then, landowners and djungkay have lived in the township or one of the 32 outstation settlements scattered throughout the landscape. Some outstations are permanently lived on, some are lived on only during the dry season when they won’t be cut off from Maningrida by rising waters, and some are not lived on for reasons that might include medical or education needs, or the expensive necessity of owning and maintaining a 4WD for access.
With landowners and djungkay permission and assistance, we visit and manage empty outstations, and provide support, training and resources in land management activities for people living at outstations. We also advise homelands resource organisation Bawinanga and external agencies on support that is required and conduct Learning on Country trips with young and old people together.
Our long-term goal is that outstations will have more landowners and djungkay on country doing management activities for healthy country, with our assistance.