Vandalism & Fire East Kimberley Kununurra

Submitted: Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 01:16
ThreadID: 96860 Views:3286 Replies:7 FollowUps:12
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Hi there fellow travellers,
I am currently in the East Kimberleys & am astounded at the vast tracts of scorched earth. I wrongly believed that these were control burns, but i have discovered that in fact it all is the result of arson attacks. The results are that a lot of country is being burnt continuously, resulting in a great deal of vegetation being destroyed & especially trees being lost . The sad fact is that nothing is being done to stop the culprits, apart from the fact that you cannot buy matches off the supermarket shelf. Frankly I am fed up with this political correctness, allowing the country side to be incinerated & no one caught & punished. . If we the majority sit on our backsides & continue to say nothing, the visitors to this area in 30 years time will find a barren wilderness.

Daz
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 09:51

Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 09:51
Daz,

While it's depressing to see large areas go up in smoke for no reason, I wouldn't let it spoil your holiday. It may be done by irresponsible, idle types, but is better to see it burn now, than later in the year, when they become wild fires, which are quite often started by lightning.

I worked in that country, just to the east of Kununurra, back in late '60's, and we would burn the country, as we were mustering. This burnt off the cane and spear grass, and if done early enough in the season, would promote fresh growth, which would lure the cattle out of the rough stuff. Made for safer galloping too, as one could see "most" of the holes, and obstacles.

Whether this continual 'over-burning' does change the ecology, i don't know, but doubt if it'll become a "barren wilderness" unquote. It just rains too much up there!!!

Enjoy the rest of your holiday, Daz,

Bob.



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Follow Up By: get outmore - Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 10:35

Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 10:35
absalutly it changes the ecology.
some examples are the Adelaide plains which were overburnt until no trees were left
and large parts of the pilbarra which has now been mostly overtaken by very easy to burn and regenerate spinifex
rainforest as well used to cover much larger parts of australia but doesnt regenerate after burning

While many australian trees do have a very high tolerance to burning they do have limits and even within these limmits some species are more tolerant than others so continual burning selectivly changes the ecology
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Follow Up By: Member - Redbakk (WA) - Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 10:53

Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 10:53
get outmore.....please come and talk to the DEC here in WA (Prescribed Burns - Department of Environment and Conservation) obviously they do not have your infinte wisdom and scientific knowledge about these issues.

Over here they just burn and burn and burn......and they dont care when they do it....talk to those in Margaret River who lost their homes last season.
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Follow Up By: daz (SA) - Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 11:34

Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 11:34
Hi Bob from Qld
Talk to the locals up here.
These fires are burning the same country year after year, some species are being lost, the larger trees cannot with stand fire after fire & any regeneration is destroyed. Fire fighters cannot control fires in this area. The fires are being lit by arsonists who are untouchable. It will still be here in my life time but for the future who knows. It is a bit like the rubbish, it flows in to the rivers because some can sit around all day, drink, eat takeaway, then just get up & go.

It gives me the irrits

Daz
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 12:40

Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 12:40
Member - Redbakk (WA) posted:


prescribed burns have nothing to do with what i was talking about.

they are done to protect property ultimatley while im talking about the natural ecology

if you want to see what over burning does locally take a look at somewhere like gooseberry hill NP which gets frequent burnings by firebugs
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 13:46

Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 13:46
Hi Daz,

While it may be tempting to think that fire in the northern savanna areas has a similar impact to fire in the southern states, it is really quite different. Masses of research has been done, books written etc on fire and fire management in the northern areas of Australia - we wont find the answers in this thread.

Suggest you google "Tropical Savannas CRC" to find out more - one of their many publications is fire brochure here

Its a controversial subject because indigenous burning has been happening for thousands of years and the flora and fauna is pretty well adapted to that. When it gets out of hand though, its a different story, more recently compounded by the introduction of weeds, including grasses that grow very quickly in the wet season and then burn in the dry (with or without human help).

Cheers,

Val
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Follow Up By: Andrew & Jen - Sunday, Jul 15, 2012 at 09:52

Sunday, Jul 15, 2012 at 09:52
Hullo Val

If you haven't read it already, I reckon you would be very interested in a new book by Bill Gammage called "The Biggest Estate on Earth - how Aborigines made Australia".

Bill is an historian and adjunct prof at ANU and is widely acclaimed as an expert in this field. With some 320 pages plus another 100 pages of appendixes and references, it is not a quick read.

I bought it at the Namadji Visitor Centre and have found it fascinating reading and have now a far greater appreciation of the deep understanding Aborigines had of the highly selective and systematic use of fire to manage vegetation type, growth and location.

It is now very hard to get - a short print run I guess. I got a copy to give to a friend (another acknowledged expert in this area) and ended up buying it from Amazon, something I normally try to avoid as I prefer to support local bookshops.

Cheers
Andrew
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Jul 15, 2012 at 14:40

Sunday, Jul 15, 2012 at 14:40
Hi Andrew,

Thanks for bringing that book to my attention - it certainly looks interesting and I will try to find a copy. Just reading some of the commentary about the books is interesting - about 15-20 years ago when I was quite heavily involved with landcare etc the idea that many of our dense sclerophyll forests only formed after colonisation were just beginning to emerge but were generally "poo-pooed" by those who "knew best", despite the well documented evidence from the pilliga scrub. Well its good to see good research being welcomed. Question is, how long will it take us, collectively, to learn the important lessons.

I see that you are in Canberra - bit chilly here today!

Cheers,

Val
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Follow Up By: Andrew & Jen - Sunday, Jul 15, 2012 at 15:57

Sunday, Jul 15, 2012 at 15:57
Hullo Val
Chillly indeed Apparent temp at Mt Lofty is about 5C ;-)
We were at Namadji in March.
As to learning important lessons. Hmmmm.... lemmings have been going over the cliff for a long time! :-) And they are not even driven by greed!
Cheers
Andrew
PS Have enjoyed your blogs on the Lake District - many memories from long ago
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Jul 15, 2012 at 16:54

Sunday, Jul 15, 2012 at 16:54
Hi Andrew,

Yes good point re lemmings! We really are a collective bunch of slow learners.
Glad you liked the blogs - I enjoy writing them, as its a good way for us to remember our trips. Happy to share with others.

Cheers,

Val.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 15:46

Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 15:46
Hi Daz

Controlled burns in the Kimberley are returning to the patterns of very small area fires which have worked with the ecology for centuries. Wildfires in the Kimberley have been know to burn for months and cover large tracts of land. Arson is a terrible thing where ever it happens and has plenty of potential for loss of life and property as well as habitat destruction. It is occurring all over the country. Catching an arsonist in the act is the only way - and that is virtually impossible. Dob in an arsonist if you see one; around here the locals would probably lynch them :O

Motherhen
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Reply By: Bigfish - Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 17:30

Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 17:30
One of the reasons the soil in the North of Australia is so poor is because of the consistent burning off.. No build up of humus anywhere. Arnhem land is nothing but a blaze of fire from August onwards. Smoke haze everywhere. The arsonists are are our proud countrymen. The sooner something is done to stop this ridiculous vandalism the better. There is absolutely no need for it.
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Follow Up By: nick - Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 23:28

Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 23:28
You really have no idea what your talking about. Go back to your concret jungle.
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Follow Up By: Bigfish - Sunday, Jul 15, 2012 at 07:20

Sunday, Jul 15, 2012 at 07:20
For your info nick I live in Arnhem ;and and have done so for 16 years. 3 years in Darwin. Have lived in Aboriginal communities, know many as good friends and have probably seen more of the outback than you ever will.

Maybe hundreds of years ago , as a nomadic race this was a necessity for living.
Not now.

Go back to your dreaming mate.
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Reply By: rooster350 - Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 20:58

Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 20:58
We were up there 3 years ago and visited Keep River N/P...it had suffered damage from this sort of burning and parts of it were closed. The story that we got about from the burning was that it was being done by a local person , presumably with some sort of mental problem. The authorities apparently know the identity of the person but unable to prove conclusively or catch the person in the act of actually starting the fires to lay any charges.
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Reply By: Life Member - Phil B (WA) - Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 21:40

Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 21:40
Hi all

The Aborigines learned long ago that by firing the bush,
Fresh shoots appear,
Fresh shoots bring roos, birds, goannas etc,
Roos, birds, goannas bring Aborigines
Concentrated animal life makes for easier killing and filling the pot.

That's how its been pre Europeons, I guess some of them still fire the bush because thats their history, dream time story, legend or whatever.

With more and more land given back thru native title, they have more control over more land and can do what they like.

In the case of Aboriginal induced fires, who are we who have been here 5 minutes, to tell them what to do?

cheers

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Follow Up By: daz (SA) - Sunday, Jul 15, 2012 at 00:46

Sunday, Jul 15, 2012 at 00:46
Phil
This is nothing to do with their heritage, In the long time ago they would burn the land then move on. Today they are desecrating the land to stuff it up for everyone as they have no respect for themselves nor anyone else.

Daz
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Follow Up By: Life Member - Phil B (WA) - Sunday, Jul 15, 2012 at 17:31

Sunday, Jul 15, 2012 at 17:31
I'm with you Daz, on the no respect etc.

But our legislators have given them the right and don't want to be seen to be anti by fine tuning things. Sadly in the future I don't see things 'better'

Thanks for raising the point in the first place. You've had some interesting responses and its a shame some people need to play the man.

cheers


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Reply By: Bushranger1 - Sunday, Jul 15, 2012 at 08:38

Sunday, Jul 15, 2012 at 08:38
G'day Daz,
I agree with you. Felt the same way when I worked up there.

Came back down to Vic & trust me the burn mentality is getting just as bad down here. The DSE (Dept of Sustainability & Environment) are justifying their burns on assest protection with little regard for the flora & fauna. Camping out in many parks in Autumn is unpleaseasant due to all the smoke.

I believe the Vic Government has made a policy that a certain amount of the areas must be burnt each year to assist in asset protection. Some of the locals have re-named the DSE to "Dept of Sparks & Embers" & "Dept of Species Extinction"
Says it all I reckon!

Cheers
Stu
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