Ranger training and water quality testing in Darwin

Larrakia (Saltwater People) National Landcare Group, NT

Mud crab sampling in Darwin Harbour

To utilise the Aboriginal knowledge in the Northern Territory, the Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation applied for a Qantas Foundation grant to bring together time-honoured experience and Western practices to help improve the environment of the Darwin Harbour region.

The group possesses a unique determination to pass on Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) including keen personal observation, interaction and thought towards nature. Although circumstances have changed, traditional values can still go a long way towards helping the survival of nature under the growing strength of urbanisation.

This understanding of natural resource management has been passed down through the generations for thousands of years. However, the project aims to improve existing on-ground natural resource management activities such as carrying out water quality monitoring, collecting and analysing shellfish samples and on-shore and off-shore litter collection.

With the Qantas Foundation funding, a unique Indigenous training and education project was undertaken by six male Larrakia rangers from 2009-2010 and nine female Larrakia Rangers in 2011. All participants successfully completed their Coxswains Certification and attended workshops including radio training, ship and fire safety and a practical day.

Other bonuses for the Landcare Group came in the form of hands-on sample collecting and analysis in a Department of Fisheries laboratory. Oysters and Mud crabs were tested for heavy metals and viral infections indicating pollution levels in the coastal eco-systems.

Darwin Harbour and the surrounding catchment have a population of over 120,000 people and increases in industry every year. To reduce the impact on the native wildlife, the newly trained Larrakia Rangers will continue to use their freshly acquired skills and knowledge as well as work with local schools giving cultural talks and workshops on bush tucker traditions and Coastcare.

This program reiterates Landcare ideals and plays an important role in how we manage our delicate natural resources.