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Dhimurru Aboriginal corporation's rangers working 'both ways'

This photo shows Dhimirru Ranger, Rakrakpuy Marika, on a white beach riding a quad bike and towing a trailer.

Dhimirru Ranger, Rakrakpuy Marika. 

Dhimurru Rangers embrace a “both ways learning” philosophy to combine ngapaki (non‑Indigenous) best practice land management techniques and Yolngu traditional knowledge and expertise. This aims to create the best future possible for the Yolngu people in the management of the Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area (IPA).

The Dhimurru IPA is the first IPA in the Northern Territory to include both terrestrial and marine areas. It includes numerous sites of cultural significance and conservation and a number of threatened species of flora and fauna.

The Dhimurru Rangers consist of nine full-time Indigenous rangers and three full-time Indigenous cultural support staff. Their role includes biodiversity monitoring, cultural heritage surveys, fire management, weed and feral animal control, visitor management activities and sea country management.

The rangers also play a significant role in reinforcing cultural practices, such as ensuring that turtle hunting is undertaken within cultural protocols.

Putting “both ways” into practice involves Dhimurru Rangers partnering with a range of bodies including the Northern Land Council, Australian Border Force, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Northern Territory Seafood Council, and the mining giant, Rio Tinto.

This “both ways” approach also applies to gender and cultural balance, with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff being employed as well as a focus on maintaining gender diversity. It also values an balanced representation of the two dominant clans, Gumatj and Rirratjingu.

“Getting a job with the Dhimurru Rangers is highly valued among the Yolngu and many local kids aspire to being a ranger,” says Sea Country Facilitator, Luke Playford, who works closely with the rangers in his mentoring role.

“We also have the Learning on Country (LOC) program that operates in partnership with Yirrkala school. It involves weekly lessons and events out on country with Elders, rangers, teachers and students. The program combines important cultural learning with mainstream curriculum. LOC students are also given the opportunity to work with the rangers in their school holidays, with some finding direct employment with Dhimurru after they graduate”.