Rescheduled …

Cultural burn: NSW (courtesy ABC)

We have made the big decision to reschedule our program of community workshops to Autumn 2022. With COVID lockdowns and restrictions we just couldn’t go ahead on 14 August, and if we delayed a couple of weeks, then would we be running too late to have ‘right fire’?

The advice from Djaara was that with wattles blooming, the sun getting warmer and spring winds starting, it may be too late for a safe and productive cultural burn. And of course, we might have a wet spring … so many unknowns!

So the decision has been made:

March: Workshop 1 – Understanding the need to burn.Looking at the land from Djaara and western ecological perspectives. What are the values here, and what are the concerns? Held on-Country.

April/May: Workshop 2 – Right way fire. Undertaking one or a series of small cultural burns. The timing will be determined by the conditions.

May/June: Workshop 3 – Learning through yarning. Afterwards a chance to learn, share experiences and outcomes, and setting up for monitoring – held on-Country.

The Humanitix booking site will be updated soon.

We’ll post updates through our website and facebook: stay tuned!

Fire for Healthy Country: Workshop bookings open!

How can fire help us create healthy Country? And what kind of fire? Used when, how and by whom?

Our second Talking Fire event in November 2018 focused on Djandak Wi – the term used by Djaara – Dja Dja Wurrung people, the Traditional Owners for our part of Central Victoria – for the process of returning cultural fire to Country.

Now Talking Fire is partnering with Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation to create opportunities for our community to deepen and transform our understanding of how to care for our local landscape. Djaara knowledge and experience will be shared through a practical experience of using fire as a way of caring for Country.

Together we want to enhance biodiversity, build community awareness and confidence in the use of fire, support new land holder skills, address community safety, and support Djaara in increasing their capacity to apply Djandak Wi to public and private land. A big agenda!

The project will be structured around three on-Country workshops to be held from May through to July (or later depending on the season). Each event will be a pre-booked COVID Safe event. For 2021, the area proposed is the southern section of the Bruce’s Track planned burn.

Community Workshop bookings are now open

Bookings for our three workshops are now open; fingers crossed and COVID willing! The location for the three workshops will be on Country – within the area proposed for Djandak Wi in the Muckleford Forest. There will also be a community event in the Community Centre in Newstead in October.

  • Workshop 1 – Understanding the need to burn. Looking at the land from Djaara and western ecological perspectives. What are the values here, and what are the concerns? Held on-Country. NEW DATE: Saturday 14 August, 12.00pm onwardsLocation will be confirmed after booking.
  • Workshop 2 – Right way fire: Undertaking one or a series of small cultural burns. The timing will be determined by the conditions. August date to be confirmed based on conditions.
  • Workshop 3 – Learning through yarning: Afterwards a chance to learn, share experiences and outcomes, and setting up for monitoring – held on-Country. September – date to be confirmed.

If you want to attend Workshop 2 – the actual cultural burn, you must attend Workshop 1 and complete Basic Wildfire Awareness, a short online training course (it takes around 3-4 hours) or in-person training – see below. When you book for these workshops, you will be asked whether you want to attend online or in-person training, and then you will be contacted with details of how to register.

Numbers are limited for Workshops 1 & 2, so please only book if you can commit to attending.

Click here to book: ticket price $10 (inc booking fee).

The Basic Wildfire Awareness training is designed to teach staff and contractors a basic awareness of fire behaviour, fire suppression techniques, safety and survival during wildfire and planned burn operations. Online training is done in your own time. There may be spaces available in a 1-day face-to-face training option in Bendigo on either 18 or 19 August.

Post-burn monitoring

The project includes a three years of post-burn monitoring, and we are keen to recruit volunteers with local plant knowledge to the monitoring team.

To get updates, follow the Talking Fire website (talkingfire.org), Talking Fire on Facebook.

Supported by the Wettenhall Environment Trust as part of their Burning Country program

Fire for Healthy Country

Cultural burn: Wooragee Landcare Workshop with Elder Uncle Ron Mason (2019)

Working with Dja Dja Wurrung and DELWP, the Talking Fire project is planning a Djandak Wi cultural burn over the winter months.

Djandak Wi is the term used by Djaara – Dja Dja Wurrung people, the Traditional Owners for our part of Central Victoria – for the process of returning cultural fire to Country.

The project seeks to deepen and transform our understanding of how to care for our local landscape by bringing Djaara knowledge and experience into a practical experience of using fire as a way of caring for Country.

Since we announced the project in the Newstead Echo in February 2021, we have been looking at potential public land locations, talking about practicalities, and inviting key local organisations to get involved. The chosen location is in the Muckleford Forest, close to the Newstead-Maldon Road, and part of the proposed planned burn area known as ‘Bruce’s Track’.

You can find out more about the project on this webpage. You might also like to look at some of the resources on Aboriginal cultural burning that we have added to our Resources page.

Please head to our home page to ‘follow’ Talking Fire for updates on this project and to learn how you can be part of one or more of our workshops or yarning sessions.

Or you can follow Talking Fire on Facebook.


Talking Fire is a project of Newstead 2021 Inc and was initiated by the Muckleford Forest Friends Network. Talking Fire aims to support and initiate community conversations to build understandings of the place of fire in our landscape.

The Fire for Health Country project in Newstead is supported by Wettenhall Environment Trust as a pilot in their Burning Country program.

Hear Stephen Pyne talk on fire policy

I heard Stephen speak last year. He brings an extraordinary perspective on the history of the development of fire policies in the USA, and in parallel here in Australia. His analysis points to the many failures in these policies – in the past and today.

Here are five opportunities to hear him:

Living with Fire: Tues 6 August, 9.30am-2pm,
La Trobe University City Campus Level 20, 360 Collins St, Melbourne.
Bookings essential – Eventbrite ($40/$20 concession)

Humans have been living with fire in the landscape for millennia. However, different groups within society (e.g. indigenous people, urban and rural residents, scientists, govt land management agencies and politicians) can have quite different views on the place of fire in the landscape. Many climatologists predict that the frequency, severity and extent of bushfires will increase under most future climate change scenarios.

La Trobe University’s Centre for the Study of the Inland and its Research Centre for Future Landscapes are bringing people together to discuss constructive ways of valuing different cultural perspectives on living with fire, to address this growing challenge in a sustainable and holistic manner.

With the renowned Professor Stephen Pyne (Arizona State University) delivering the keynote address, followed by presentations from Lee Miezis (Deputy Secretary, Forest, Fire and Regions DELWP, Professor Dick Williams (Charles Darwin University, formerly with CSIRO, Dr Tim Neale (Deakin Uni, ) and Trent Nelson (Parks Vic) and ending with a panel discussion with all the presenters, this will be a seminar not to be missed. Includes morning tea and lunch.

Fire’s American Century:
Wed 7 August, 6-8pm, Melbourne Museum Theatrette.
Bookings essential – Eventbrite – Free

Renowned environmental historian, Professor Stephen Pyne, is the speaker for the 2019 Bernard Bailyn Lecture in North American History. Stephen Pyne will outline how the American fire scene and national policies have evolved from the late 19th century to the early 21st. No-one has written more extensively on fire than Stephen Pyne. And it isn’t only American fires that have piqued his curiosity over the years.

Planning for the Pyrocene: Stephen Pyne and Tom Griffiths
Sunday 11 August, 3.00-4.00pm, Strategem Studio
Bendigo Writers Festival: Ticket for this event

Here we are, in 2019, and it seems we have no idea how to manage fire in our combustible landscape. Does controlled burning help or hinder? What have we learnt from the devastating deadly fires of recent years? Stephen J Pyne has written many books on fire management, including A Fire History of Australia and Fire on Earth. Following the Californian fires of 2018, he has written about the new age we are now entering, calling it the “pyrocene”. Stephen talks with Tom Griffiths about how communities can plan with confidence by understanding their environments and how they are changing.

There are also two other events at the Bendigo Writers Festival:

Fire People: Chloe Hooper, Stephen Pyne, Sian Gard
Friday 9 August, 3.15-4.15, Bendigo Bank Theatre
Bendigo Writers Festival: Day or Festival Pass holders only

There are those who light them and those who fight them. Beyond headlines about the ever-increasing danger of fire, the devastation of a firestorm, and the losses that follow, from out of the communities affected come the stories about what happened and how it makes them feel. Stephen Pyne and Chloe Hooper talk to Sian Gard about the way fire changes lives, and about finding ways to describe those experiences. Can writing get close to conveying both the fire and the people whose lives are marked indelibly by it?

Fieldwork:
Saturday 10 August, 1.15-2.15pm, Capital Theatre
Bendigo Writers Festival: Day or Festival Pass holders only
What do we know about the places we live, the bush, the towns by the side of bitumen and dirt, the people who live and work beyond the city cluster? It’s through the curiosity and patient effort of writers who make the journeys and spend time asking the questions that we come to understand the country and people’s place in it. Paul Barclay is joined by three “fieldwork” writers – Gabrielle Chan, Kim Mahood and Stephen Pyne – to ask about where they go, how they travel, what they take with them and what they bring back.

Returning cultural burning to Country – Djandak Wi

Thursday 29 November 7.30pm. Newstead Community Centre (9 Lyons Street, Newstead).
All welcome, no booking required.

Come and hear Scott Falconer (Assistant Chief Fire Officer with FFMVic) share his experience in the United States and Canada where he explored the involvement of Indigenous people in land and fire management. Scott’s research was supported through The Lord Mayor’s Bushfire Appeal Churchill Fellowship. He was accompanied by Trent Nelson, Dja Dja Wurrung man and Parks Victoria Ranger Team Leader for part of the research trip. Read more …

Talking Fire November Events

Come along to one or both of these two upcoming Talking Fire events:

Budj Bim Rangers – Josh Ferguson & Sean Bell: Cultural Burning on the Kurtonitj IPA (South-West Victoria)

Building community capacity & confidence: Thursday 29 November – 7.30-9.15pm, Newstead Community Centre

Changing how we think about and manage fire in our local landscape means reflecting on our concerns, our capacities and our confidence in current practices and in any proposed changes. What might reviving Indigenous burning practices mean for example? Join us for a presentation on the value of community dialogue to foster shared knowledge and responsibility. All welcome. Free – gold coin donation appreciated!

Reviving Indigenous burning practices: Community Search Conference: Friday 30 November 9am-5pm, Newstead Community Centre

Join expert panellists at our Community Search Conference for a chance to explore how we might connect Indigenous fire traditions with current approaches to fuel reduction and planned burns to shape new ways to protect our landscape and communities. All welcome. The Community Search Conference is free but please book by Friday 23 November.

Bookings: for the Community Search Conference, email your name, organisation (if applicable), contact phone number and the number of people to Talking FireFor more information: Talkingfire.org or Talking Fire on Facebook. 

This project is supported by the Mount Alexander Shire Council Community Grants Program.

Creative transformations

Fire Stories – part of Newstead’s Words in Winter 2018 – celebrated transformation. In the sunshine of a winter’s afternoon, we gathered, created, reflected and then shared our creations with the fire. Mostly anyway! A few things were held back, suggesting stories that needed to be developed further, or objects that suddenly felt precious!

It was fun and very playful, with an amazing arrange of natural materials – string, leaves, branches, paper, natural ochres and more – used to create objects for the fire. As each person tossed their creation into the fire, with a story,  or a few words or just in silence, it was magical to see their creation turned into some more warm for all of us around the fire.

We’ll post some more images on Talking Fire.

 

Join us for Fire Stories – ‘Transformation’

Fire warms us in winter, but in summer fire evokes fear. Fire is part of the story of this landscape. Fire transforms and displaces. Fire creates shifts; not only of the earth, plants and animals, but transforms our own internal worldviews, experiences and memories. Transformations can create space for the new – in our lives and in the landscape.

Following on from reading and sharing fire stories as part of Words in Winter 2017, this year we will explore the idea of ‘transformation’.

Join us to express your creativity around the idea of ‘transformations’ – we’ll have materials for you to work with to express your ideas. Artists including those exhibiting in EarthBody will be there to help.  Then as darkness falls, we’ll sit around a warming fire and explore the meaning of ‘transformation’ and transform some of our creations through the fire.

This event follows the opening of EarthBody at the Newstead Railway Arts Hub at 2pm.

Date & time: Sunday 5 August, 4.00pm – 6.30pm.

For further information: follow Talking Fire on Facebook.

Gold coin donation.

Part of Newstead Words in Winter 2018 – for more events go to http://nwiw.blogspot.com/

Come and join in! Saturday night around the fire!

We’ll be weaving together stories about fire on Saturday 12 August – 4.30-8.30 pm – leaving from the Newstead Railway Arts Hub, Tivey Street, Newstead – visiting a spot in the nearby forest just for an hour as it gets dark and the moon rises. Then back at the Newstead Railway Arts Hub where there will be delicious soups to warm us and a fire too. Tell us you are coming by a text to 0418512471 – just so there is enough soup!

 

Booked yet for our Sharing Stories event?

Fire is a powerful force and a wonderful comfort. Aboriginal people have stories about how fire was brought to people and settler peoples brought their own experience of fire with them.

 

Kee woorroong Gunditjmara clan (south-west Victoria) tell this story:

A long time ago fire belonged to the crows who lived at Gariwerd, the Grampian Mountains. They were greedy crows and knew that fire was of great value. A little bird, Yuuloinkeear, firetail wren, was watching the crows making fun and games with fire-sticks. One fire-stick fell to the ground and Yuuloinkeear picked it up and flew away. The crows chased him and Yuuloinkeear soon grew tired. So he passed the fire-stick to Tarrakuuk. Tarrakuuk, the kestrel hawk, took the fire-stick from Yuuloinkeear and lit all the Country behind him. From that time there has been fire for all the Gunditjmara.

(Source: Nyernila: Listen Continuously. Aboriginal Creation Stories of Victoria, Creative Victoria website)

We’ll be sharing stories on Saturday 12 August – 4.30-8.30 pm – in the forest and around the fire at the Newstead Railway Arts Hub. Join us! You need to book through Eventbrite so we have enough soup for everyone. Click this link for more information and to book.