Robyn Bowden

Social Science
Native Title
Summer 2014

I have been lucky to spend 5 weeks during January and February working with the Land and Sea Management team at Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation (CLCAC) as part of the Aurora Native Title Internship Program. The program places university students and graduates with organisations that support Indigenous native title rights and/or work in Indigenous affairs more generally. As a Masters student in Conservation and Land Management, I was initially unsure in what capacity I would be working to support the team at CLCAC, and how the work would be linked to Indigenous native title.

Through my time at CLCAC I have come to appreciate how these two areas are closely related. The work conducted by CLCAC’s Ranger teams and supported by the Land and Sea Management team in Cairns is not just about achieving environmental objectives (which is achieved with great success) but also creates the unique opportunity for Indigenous communities to assert their ancient custodial responsibility to manage country. This work is achieved not only on exclusive native title land, but across tenures, building partnerships across the land management sector and within the community. Thus land management work also fulfils tangible Indigenous social and cultural objectives.

This is reflected in the enormous pride and personal satisfaction in their work expressed by the Rangers out in Normanton, where I was lucky to spend a week during my time with CLCAC. Having the opportunity to meet and briefly work with such highly skilled and passionate Indigenous Rangers was a highlight of my time at CLCAC.

My trip out to Normanton also allowed me to see firsthand the incredible landscape that the Rangers work so hard to protect. As we travelled across an Indigenous owned pastoral station with one of the Rangers, we saw woodlands, grassy swamps, wetlands and waterholes teeming with bird life, including water bird roosting sites, mangrove forests, estuaries, saltmarshes and mud flats. We were able to see real differences in the landscape where the Rangers had conducted weed control and pest exclusion works, demonstrating the capacity for the works to have significant impacts even within a year or two. I was impressed both by how spectacular the landscape was, and surprised that the region does not receive more recognition for its precious biodiversity and outstanding natural beauty.

I feel very appreciative for the opportunity that I’ve had to work with such a friendly and supportive group of people, and for all that I’ve learnt from the team at CLCAC. It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience to be able to contribute to such a great program and organisation.