Good signs for environment and culture on the Cape

Cape York Natural Resource Management is working with South Cape York Catchments to inspire community members to take part in environmental and cultural preservation.

South Cape York Catchments recently worked with the Laura Rangers to hold a cultural plant awareness event for World Environment Day with community elders, pupils and teachers of Laura State School and the local community. The excursion was part of a combined South Cape York Catchments and Laura Ranger project to preserve traditional knowledge and install an interpretive cultural plant trail at the Split Rock and Mushroom Rock art galleries.

Alerah Ross (SCYC) holding fallen Cluster Figs before they had ripened.

Signs identifying the plant species and its traditional use will allow tourists visiting these sites to gain an insight into the Aboriginal culture of the Laura area. The enthusiastic World Environment Day participants searched the banks of the Laura River and Mossman Creek looking for plants with traditional uses.

During the short walk fifteen plants with medicinal, nutritional or material uses were found with Laura Elders Aileen Gale and Fred Coleman explaining their preparation and use in traditional culture.

Mrs Gale explained that an excursion on country is the best way to learn about the resources available in the bush. “The children learnt not only how to identify useful and dangerous plants but also, by seeing the plants in their natural environment, to learn where they are likely to be found,” she said.

The group was taught how to recognise when a food plant was ready for harvest and traditional harvesting methods were explained and demonstrated. Laura Ranger Brian Ross gave a spear making demonstration, which enthralled the children.

Laura State School principal Susan Kersland, was delighted to see the community, school, local police and rangers working together to make the excursion interesting and fun. “It is great to see the children connecting with their heritage and I am very happy that this type of event is supported within the school curriculum,” she said.

The interpretative signs were funded by a NRM Community Awareness Grant from the Department of Environment and Resource Management. It was the unanimous decision of the group that a second excursion be arranged later in the year when different bush tucker will be ready to harvest.