Junior rangers learning about yinta

The start of the 2016 field season has seen the Junior Ranger Program in full swing in Punmu. For Term 1, we have been following the ranger theme of yinta (waterholes).
We have explored questions with the rangers such as:

  • Why is it important to look after waterholes on country?
  • How can camels make waterholes unhealthy?
  • How did the old people use waterholes in the pujiman (bushman) days?
  • How did they carry water from one waterhole to another?
  • What animals need waterholes?

At school, the junior rangers have been using the KJ Wanyja map to locate waterholes around Punmu and how far we need to travel to get to them. We have also looked at the old KJ waterhole map that the Elders put together over 20 years ago and which was important evidence in their native title determination claim. Elders created the map by remembering where waterholes were on Martu country through story and songlines.  The rangers explained that they use GPS and the KJ Wanyja program to ‘ground truth’ (obtain an accurate location) for the waterholes.

The junior rangers have visited several waterholes around Punmu so far this term: Illyara, Rawa, Jila-jila and Nyakulaji. The male rangers have shown the junior rangers how to clean them the right way. The female rangers have shown them how to complete water testing and check for water bugs to see if the waterholes are healthy.

Back in the classroom, the junior rangers have been linking modern science to what they have learned on country. This has included learning the different ways that water collects in claypans, rock holes, soaks and springs. They have also collected some water bug (macroinvertebrate) samples and are learning about PH levels.  

The recreation room at school has now become a meeting room for the junior rangers.  The junior rangers put up photos of their field trips, look at the different KJ maps and work on the junior ranger logo that will be printed on their new uniforms in time for Term 2. We have also had another visit from Chris ‘Tungku’ Deslandes who consulted with the rangers to finalise the junior ranger curriculum.

It has been a fantastic first term of the Junior Ranger Program and we are all looking forward to next term’s theme: Fire (waru) which will include some overnight camping trips

Clockwise from top left: Isaac inspecting Nyakulaji rock hole for water; Junior rangers in the high school classroom using the KJ ‘Wanjya’ map to look at the important waterholes around Punmu; Rangers show the junior rangers an example of how camels can make waterholes unhealthy. The camel disturbance had caused a lot of reeds to die and dry out. The rangers showed the junior rangers the first step of cleaning up this soak by burning off the dead reeds; Junior rangers help the rangers to dig out Jila-Jila soak; Justin, Ullah and JB at Rawa soak collecting a tadpole sample and trying to identify the frog species using the reference book;  Punmu ranger Simon takes his turn at digging out some built-up dirt from Nyakulaji rock hole