CVA Updates

Deepening Cultural Fire Learning on Dharug Ngurra Country

Thank you to Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation (Firesticks), Greater Sydney Local Land Services and Greater Sydney Landcare for co-authoring this content with us.

In July, Dharug Traditional Owners returned to Londonderry Woodlands Reserve in Burubiranggal Dharug Country with their families to deepen Cultural Fire knowledge. This was a continuation of last year’s workshop, which saw Cultural Fire return to this part of Dharug Ngurra for the first time in 200 years or more. Learning about Cultural Fire supports the health and balance of Country, and strengthens the identity and wellbeing of the community too.



The Londonderry Woodlands Reserve lies within the clan area of the Burubiranggal Dharug Traditional Owners. It adjoins the freshwater Rickerby’s Creek that nourishes the surrounding Country and flows northward to the culturally significant Hawkesbury River. It is important to the Dharug people to keep this area in good health.

Dan Morgan from the Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation (Firesticks) led the workshop with Dharug Traditional Owners and support from Brad Moore of Greater Sydney Local Land Services (GSLLS). Also in attendance were connected First Nations people working with the Dharug on the journey to reclaim cultural fire, representatives of Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA), GSLLS, land managers from around the region and the local Rural Fire Service (RFS).



When the first fire was lit around mid-morning, the group experienced the way that the cool, trickling Cultural Fire gently moves through Country. The site had good coverage of native grasses, trees and shrubs and was in relatively good health. However, it’s important to use the right Cultural Fire to continue maintaining healthy Country and restoring balance.

As the day warmed and the fire gradually spread, Dan guided Dharug and other First Nations peoples to light more fire. The slow-moving Cultural Fire created a mosaic of black and green across the landscape, to a soundtrack of crackling burning grass, visiting birds and Dharug children eating bush foods they’ve been taught about earlier in the day.



Many community members were experiencing Cultural Fire for the first time. Dharug and other First Nations people who were further along in their Cultural Fire journey supported the newer participants in their learning. The RFS participants recognised the cultural knowledge of Dharug and Firesticks to care for Country through Cultural Fire without their ongoing presence.

In the afternoon, as the sun started to drop and shade crept over the landscape, the fire slowed and went out in many areas. As Dan and Brad were speaking with the group, a small whirlwind appeared in the nearby smoke. It lingered for several minutes and then disappeared around a gum tree, a clear indicator that Country and the old people were pleased with the activities of the day.



The workshop concluded with an open discussion about the community’s aspirations for continuing this project. Dan and Brad discussed ways to deepen the cultural mentoring of the Dharug and First Nations peoples while connecting to culture through other Caring for Country activities. Everyone agreed that enhancing the health, balance and abundance of Dharug Ngurra and strengthening the identity of Country and the people is of utmost importance. Plans are also in development for dedicated Firesticks training in 2024, facilitated by GSLLS and hosted in this part of Country by CVA. This will support Dharug and connected First Nations community members in their journey towards becoming Cultural Fire Practitioners.



The current project was developed as part of the Cumberland Plain Restoration Program (CPRP), instigated by Greater Sydney Landcare and main partner, the NSW National Park and Wildlife Service. The Program works in collaboration with Land Managers from across the Cumberland Plain and is greatly enhanced with project partners such as GSLLS and Firesticks. The CPRP is also supported by the NSW Environmental Trust, with financial assistance from the NSW Government’s Saving our Species Program.