Punmu women rangers busy looking after country and culture

The Punmu women ranger’s team have had a great start to the year. Thirty-five women have been taking turns working as part-time and casual rangers. The women have spent 47 days on country and have been on seven overnight trips so far. Highlights have included:

  • Newhaven ‘Cat Camp’ and Kiwirrkurra ranger exchange.
  • Continuation of the High School Ranger Program with Rawa School.
  • Participation in the national “Bilby Blitz”, completing surveys at 15 sites using the newly developed “Mankarr search” monitoring method. 
  • Completion of mulyamiji (Great Desert Skink) surveys at key sites, including installation and data collection from 12 cameras.
  • Trip along the Canning Stock Route (Well 34 to 37) to visit important cultural sites.

In March, the Kunawarritji rangers took the Punmu women’s ranger team to visit Karingkarra, a special soak for many families during pujiman (bushman) times with bush foods and woollybut grass in seed near the camp. The soak was re-found in 2016 by Kumpaya Girgirba during a helicopter mapping trip, with the Kunawarritji rangers later making an access track by car. Five pujiman elders joined the trip. 

This was the first (and a very emotional) time for all but two of the Punmu women visiting Karingkarra since pujiman days. Elders Jakayu Biljabu and Mulyatingki Marney told stories they remembered of camping with their families in the area and sang the songs for the surrounding sites. It was very special to be shown this country and visit it after such a long time. Over three days and two nights, the rangers ground-truthed four sites including two of which were new to waterhole database, WANYJA. 

The women rangers have planned for and led many of the trips. Regular fortnightly team meetings have been held at the Lakehouse (ranger station). Everyone has been learning and supporting each other to take turns in ranger work while balancing other responsibilities. 
The rest of the year looks busy with:

  • A Seven Sisters trip to revisit sites from the 2016 Martumili and KJ women’s camp.
  • A fire and biodiversity trip to Desert Queen Baths with Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and environmental staff from Nifty Mine.
  • Joint trip with the Punmu men’s team to Japali, in the Karlamilyi area.
  • Three-day High School ranger camp to Karlamilyi.
  • Off-country bush foods and plants trip to Alice Springs, to connect and share with Central Desert women’s ranger teams on cultural and environmental projects.