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

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.

 

Where to … rethinking fire

In the last session of Talking Fire, there was a chance to reflect on what we had heard and experienced over two intense days. The big question was:  How can we rethink ‘fire’ at a landscape-scale, not just as a threat to a house or a town? And then – So what might we do differently? What have we learnt? What are we puzzled by?

The notes from this session – created through small group discussions where people moved around the topic tables in a ‘world café’ format – have just been loaded onto the Talking Fire website. Many great ideas!

The Muckleford Forest Friends Group (MFFG) are pursuing the topic of “Rethinking … Values” taking on the idea of documenting the biodiversity of the Muckleford Forest, and then reporting each Easter as part of an annual health check for the large Bendigo Box-Ironbark Forest international Key Biodiversity Area. MFFG is one of a number KBA Guardians across our region that are being formed with the support of Connecting Country.

While the Muckleford Forest earns the Dja Dja Wurrung description of  ‘upside down country’ – a reflection of the gold mining history – it is still a much loved and beautiful forest. There is no forest restoration plan for the Muckleford Forest yet, but maybe one day there will be!

Broadly speaking, MFFG plans to select around 10 sites across the Muckleford Forest, and monitor them regularly throughout 2017/2018, so that when the Easter Health Check comes around in 2018, we are in a better position to make an informed assessment. We’ve got ideas for systematic recording, as well as sharing those serendipitous and often wondrous encounters, using the Muckleford Forest blog.

Ultimately it’s all about what we value and how we manage our local landscapes to protect what we love. Want to get involved? If you like planning and organisation, our next meeting is Tues 2 May – or if you’d like to put your hand up to take on a monitoring site (with training on “how to”) or to propose a location you’ve already been monitoring – or with any other great ideas – drop us a line to MFFG

Talking Fire – Igniting a Spark?

'Talking Fire' A Community Conversation: Understanding fire in our landscape - at the Newstead Community Centre

There’s a triangle involved in fire, which involves conditions, substrate and spark.

The “Talking Fire” weekend on 12/13 November lit a spark, but it certainly wasn’t damaging. The triangle of local, Indigenous and technical expertise, field and forest visits, and space to talk about what we’d heard and seen, all created another sort of ignition.

People are concerned about the places they love, including home, hearth and the local landscape more generally. Talking Fire was a great start to a new kind of conversation: about learning, reducing fear, building understanding, caring for our towns, settlements and the whole landscape together.

Thanks to everyone who participated and contributed. Especially Maldon Urban Landcare Group (MULGA). For funding – thanks to Mount Alexander Shire Community Grants, Maldon and District Community Bank (Bendigo Bank), Norman Wettenhall Foundation; catering – Newstead Primary School, Newstead Mens’ Shed; gifts – Goughs Range Olives and Newstead Natives; in-kind support – Newstead Landcare, Connecting Country, Newstead Fire Brigade, Newstead Auxiliary, Friends of Box Ironbark Forests, Bendigo TAFE, DELWP; photographers – Julie Hough, Julie Millowick, Christine Sayer, Marion Williams, Simon Beckett; sound recordists – Andrew Skeoch, Sarah Koschak; oral histories – Gordon Dowell. And three cheers for the planning group too.talking-fire_marionw-_low-res-4623

And mostly, to everyone who came to any of it, or all, and joined the chat. We think there were around 40 – 50 on each day, and not the same attendees, or speakers. It made for more conversations.

Because many people couldn’t attend the event, or only came to parts of it, we are curating the audio, visual and audio-visual of the weekend at our website http://www.talkingfire.org. You will be able to get a gist of the conversations there. But please be a bit patient for it all to arrive.

We are also interested in collecting ‘fire histories’ around the CFA auxiliary, and other fire experiences – to share and learn from. Contact Gordon 0467 586 881 or Janet 0439 003 469.

More info: http://www.talkingfire.org or Chris 54762457.