Local resources

Look here for publications relevant to our local area that might interest you. Click on each to open a PDF that you can save to your computer or print.

  • Newstead Community Plan – a plan developed by the Newstead community
  • Tarrengower Community Plan – the Maldon community’s plan
  • Safer Together – the Victorian Government’s new policy on fire preparedness
  • Strategic Bushfire Management Plan: West Central Bushfire risk landscape – the overall plan for a region from Melbourne to Bendigo . This is the summary.
  • Strategic Bushfire Management Plan: West Central Bushfire risk landscape – Full report on the Plan.
  • Zoning public land: DELWP zones public land in relation to risk and therefore the actions to be taken to reduce ‘fuel’: the zones around Newstead and Maldon (and across the region) are under review now with comments due by 11 November. This is the link to the map showing zonings and proposed changes, and there is also a table to help you decode the map.

Vegetation & Fire

Aboriginal use of fire

While knowledge of how Aboriginal people used fire in this landscape in the past is limited, DEWLP and Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation are working together to explore approaches to burning, based on specific ecological and cultural goals rather than ‘hazard reduction’. Djandak Wi is the term Djaara people use to refer to the process of returning cultural fire to Country.

Here are some key documents and articles:

  • Country: Future Fire, Future Farming: a Wheeler Centre podcast with Bill Gammage, Bruce Pascoe & Sophie Cunningham, first broadcast on 20 April 2022, focusing on their new publication Country: Future Fire, Future Farming that delves into the remarkable agricultural and land care practises of First Nations people. It examines how, through complex seasonal burning programs, Aboriginal people managed the land to avoid the late season destructive bushfires we fear today. Together they join writer Sophie Cunningham to discuss how employing Indigenous land management practises is critical to creating a more sustainable future for people and country.
  • World-first research confirms Australia’s forests became catastrophic fire risk after British invasion: new research in The Conversation on 16 Feb 2022 asserts ‘Australia’s forests now carry far more flammable fuel than before British invasion, our research shows, revealing the catastrophic risk created by non-Indigenous bushfire management approaches’.
  • New light in a land shaped by fire: Rare aerial photos intended to help open up the outback to mining following World War II instead deliver a lesson from the last generation of Indigenous people to live in the Great Sandy Desert on how to protect life and country. Article by Ben Collins, ABC Kimberley (2021)
  • The Victorian Traditional Owner Cultural Fire Strategy (2019). Prepared by the Victorian Traditional Owner Cultural Fire Knowledge Group, this strategy offers foundational principles, objectives and guidance about the cultural fire. A key document.
  • How Self-Determination is Returning White Smoke to Country – Scott Falconer (FFMVic) reflects on based on his Churchill Fellowship research and current initiatives in Victoria and on Dja Dja Wurrung Country.
  • What are whitefellas talking about when we talk about “cultural burning”? Timothy Neale, Inside Story, 17 April 2020. Timothy Neale is a DECRA Senior Research Fellow in the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University. His research is supported by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre and Australian Research Council.

  • Victor Steffensen – Fire Country: How Indigenous Fire Management Could Help Save Australia, Explore Australia Publishing, 2020. An engaging and powerful account from Indigenous land management expert Victor Steffensen on how the revival of cultural burning practices, and improved ‘reading’ of country could help to restore our land. It tells the story of how he learnt traditional cultural and ecological knowledge and fire. In it he advocates for a wholistic approach to the environment, and burning in a carefully considered manner to ensure proper land care and healing. Copies available through the Goldfields Library.

  • Walking Together: A Decolonising Experiment in Bushfire Management on Dja Dja Wurrung Country. An article by Tim Neale, Rodney Carter, Trent Nelson and Mick Bourke in Cultural Geographies, 26, 3 (2019), 341–59. Drawing upon a case study of collaborative bushfire management between Dja Dja Wurrung peoples and settler bushfire management agencies on Dja Dja Wurrung country in the southeast Australian state of Victoria, this article argues for an understanding of such collaborations as ‘decolonising experiments’ and whether and how they materially improve the position of Indigenous peoples, as well as whether and how they give rise to new resources and strategies for the creation of other decolonising futures.

  • Future of bushfires? The Latest from Science with Associate Professor Michael-Shawn Fletcher (University of Melbourne) on the Australian Academy of Science Youtube channel (12 May 2020). Looks at the role of climate change and bushfires. The return of cultural burning is addressed from minute 8 onwards.  You may also be interested in the 2020 Naarm Oration by Assoc Professor Michael-Shawn Fletcher.

  • Spreading the lesson of cultural burning by Gib Wettenhall in Victorian Landcare Magazine, Winter 2020, Issue 78. A short article based on Gib’s participation in a cultural burn led by Ngarigo Elder Uncle Rod Mason at a workshop run by the Wooragee Landcare Group in autumn 2019.

  • The Firesticks project (a partnership with the NSW Nature Conservancy Council) demonstrates western and traditional Aboriginal science knowledge coming together to explore new approaches to fire for ecological and cultural purposes in NSW: this short video offers interesting viewing.

  • The Country Needs People website includes reports on projects using fire to achieve ecological objectives – in the Kimberley to protect endangered bird species and in the Central Desert (WA), a location where feral cats are actively hunted as well.

Policy & monitoring around cultural fire

Smith, W, Weir, J, and Neale, T. Hazards, Culture and Indigenous Communities: Annual Report: 2018-2019. East Melbourne, Victoria: Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2019

Indigenous Knowledge


Firescape – Arizona: A program called Firescape is used in Arizona to address ecology/biodiversity of some forested public lands. Read more here. One of the partners is the U.S. Nature Conservancy – here is a comment from their website.