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10 Deserts Project News


Magical Munga-Thirri

Munga-Thirri (Simpson Desert) and Sturt Stony Desert

Munga-Thirri and its surrounding regional reserves have amazing features including sand dunes, salt lakes, mikiri, ancient waddi trees (Acacia peuce) and even sea shells that are being exposed by the desert winds. More importantly though for its traditional owners (TOs), it is a cultural landscape full of stories and songs that keep the country alive.

Peter See visited Munga-Thirri National Park and surrounding areas including the Sturt Stony Desert in early July with Don Rowlands (TO and park ranger in Queensland) and Luke Barrowcliffe (an indigenous film maker who is working on a film from a trip last year along the Two Boys Dreaming song line).

Peter will be working with Don and other TOs to see how the project can assist them to achieve some of their aspirations to transfer and save cultural knowledge, rekindle language and promote the importance of their country.

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    Virtual Southern Desert Ranger Forum

    The Indigenous Desert Alliance (IDA) took up the challenge of staying connected during COVID-19 restrictions, by holding its first online event - the Southern Desert Ranger Forum.

    The forum, held over three days in August via Zoom, was a great success with 20 ranger groups and 60 rangers participating in a diverse program, which included government ministers dropping in, fire stories from country and songs of wellbeing.

    Staying connected is vital and even a pandemic can’t stand in the way of groups wanting to catch up!

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    Hanson Boxer

    Hanson Boxer from Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation on why being on-country is so important :

    I brought my son here into this desert country. It’s the land of Walmajarri. But we’re heard that rangers are going to country up there at land of Walmajarri and I said to myself “Well, I’d like to go up there. That’s my father’s country and my grandmother’s country, the mother of my father and I’ll take my boy, Emile, to show him the country of his grandfather." That makes me feel good now.

    So, my grandfather, my dad’s father, who was born out here and living his traditional ways, was still able to transfer his knowledge to my father even though my father was part of the generation of people who grew up on stations and were born on stations compared to my grandfather who lived in his traditional ways. He was still fortunate enough to be able to transfer that knowledge. And even though during the colonisation period that my father was born and raised during he was still able to transfer that very important knowledge to him. And even now that’s 50, 60, 70 years later after he’s been through that whole experience he’s still able to transfer me that knowledge in a completely different context.

    Like we didn’t travel out here by foot anymore like my grandfather did...... we came out here in a helicopter and we came out here with cars and all this camping equipment. And even though the context is much different that same strong cultural knowledge is still being transferred. And I feel very, very fortunate to be a part of that whole process and it’s been very humbling and a very special experience for me.

    Fire management: on-country burning and training

    Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area

    The project supported two weeks of burning on the Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area. Gareth Catt and Andrew Schubert teamed with rangers and staff from Desert Support Services and Bush Heritage Australia using helicopters and aerial incendiaries to access and burn more remote patches of country. This, along with ground burning from tracks accessible by vehicles is fantastic to see.

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      Watarrka Aerial Bombardier training

      Aerial incendiary burning (AIB) training brought together departmental and agency staff from Bushfires Northern Territory, Parks Northern Territory, Parks Australia, and rangers from the Central Land Council at Watarrka Ranger Station, Kings Canyon Resort and Katiti-Petermann Indigenous Protected Area.

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        Kiwirrkurra fire training

        10 Deserts Project team members Gareth and Hannah travelled on-country to support the Kiwirrkurra rangers burning in remote and inaccessible areas of the Kiwirrkurra Indigenous Protected Area (IPA).

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        Ngurrara rangers

        The Ngurrara rangers, with the support of the 10 Deserts Project and the Kimberley Land Council, travelled to the west of the Canning Stock Route to Crosslands 3 and Well 46 to conduct two weeks of 'cool season' prescribed burning.

        Regional Indigenous Tourism

        • Shelley is working on the development of a website for tourism in the desert that will assist Indigenous organisations to promote and manage tourism on their country. It is expected that a demonstration version would be available later in September with the north-west of the project area being a trial site.
        • The regional strategy we developed last year highlighted what little information there is about who is visiting the desert, where they went and what they liked or didn’t like.  We are now consulting with a number of Indigenous organisations with permit systems about analysing permit data and surveying previous permit holders on their experience. It is expected that analysis will be done by an Indigenous researcher at the University of Queensland with reports being made available to each participating group as well as a regional report being prepared looking at desert wide trends.
        • We are also working with WAITOC on linking interested desert mobs with existing Indigenous tourism operators to learn from their experiences and how to source funding for regional tourism development officers to support Indigenous desert tourism initiatives.
        • We were successful in obtaining a grant from the Building Better Regions Fund to boost tourism experiences in the desert. This will be used over the next three years to run a series of workshops, study tours and learning experiences for different groups. If you are interested in participating in these please let us know.
        Our new blog
        Stories from the desert - now live!

        Our blog Stories from the Desert is now live! The blog on our website and will feature stories on the wonderful people and unique environments in the Australian desert country!

        Read blog stories
        Sustainability, Carbon & Co-benefits

        • The project is pursuing opportunities to generate carbon credits in the desert and investigating with relevant partners and stakeholders the potential to extend the current savanna burning method below 600mm rainfall to include country that has higher fire frequencies. It is likely that this will require further on-ground and desktop research prior to making a case to government.
        • In the meantime, the project will make a case for funding for carbon abatement work outside of the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) and seek to implement targeted research to more accurately measure emissions in the desert from managed and unmanaged fire.
        • On the co-benefits story, the project is progressing the development of healthy country credits that will able to be marketed and sold separate to carbon credits. An expert workshop was recently held with Accounting for Nature and a panel of scientists and researchers to consider the feasibility of using fire metrics as indicators of health of country. Over the coming months we will develop and trial a draft method using Accounting for Nature’s framework. Social, cultural and employment benefits for Indigenous people would be the focus of qualitative narratives so as to minimise any costly verification frameworks.
        • If successful a method would form the basis of a healthy country credit that corporates and philanthropic organisations could confidently invest in as part of their commitment to arresting the decline in biodiversity and supporting Indigenous fire management.
        • To that end, the project has also been participating in an informal biodiversity credits working group with conservation organisations and other stakeholders. The working group held a successful webinar on a ‘Marketplace for Nature’ in early September. The project and healthy country credits was one of the case studies used as an example of potential projects to be available in the marketplace.

        Phil Sparrow appointment new general manager

        Congratulations to Phil Sparrow who has been appointed as the new 10 Deserts Project general manager, following an open recruitment process. Prior to joining the 10 Deserts team in October 2018 as program leader, Phil had a successful career in community development.

        Most recently, Phil has been acting general manager, following Peter See stepping down.  As general manager, Phil will be responsible for leading and managing the ongoing successful development and implementation of the project. 

        Indigenous Desert Alliance
        10-12 November 2020

        Annual conference

        The 10 Deserts Project is pleased to support the annual IDA Conference. The conference is scheduled for November at the University of Western Australia and via videoconference. For more information visit 


        The 10 Deserts Project (10DP) team continues to support all of our project partners during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

        As restrictions differ across the country please contact relevant 10DP staff to discuss ways in which we can provide support and assistance or you can send us a message via the contact us page.

        For the most up to date information and advice, visit the Department of Health and relevant state and territory health department websites and talk to your local communities.

        From all of us, stay safe and look after each other!

        10DP team

        Our Project Partners

        Our Conservation Partners

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        10 Deserts Project

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        Western Australia 6005

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        The 10 Deserts Project acknowledges the traditional owners of the country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to elders past, present and future.