Prior to colonisation, Aboriginal people would have set fires in the woodland now situated at the Australian Botanic Gardens Mount Annan to burn through prickly shrubs and dry grass, and to flush out kangaroos or wallabies in order to hunt them. After the fire, it’s easier to walk through the woodland, with shrubby obstacles removed. Later, after some rain, grasses re-sprout, attracting kangaroos and wallabies to graze on the new growth and congregate in the burnt area. Fire made hunting easier and prevented bushfires from becoming the problem that they are in modern times.
All around Australia, people work very hard to prepare for bushfires that cause destruction to both natural and human-made environments. Fire brigades from the RFS use conventional methods called ‘back burning’ and ‘hazard reduction burning’. Whereas many Aboriginal people use traditional methods called ‘cultural burning’, ‘fire stick farming’ or ‘cool burning’.
Watch the three videos below to understand the similarities and differences between traditional and modern land management methods.