Fire Country: Indigenous Fire Management

‘I will never forget the day that Poppy lit the first fire on country in front of me… “I’m gonna light the grass now, like the old people used to do,” Poppy said loudly and proudly.

He walked over to the stringybark country and ripped off a long piece of bark from the closest tree… He teased one end of the long piece of bark, lit it up and then walked through the boxwood patch in a repetitive, figure eight type movement… I watched him dancing through the flames like some kind of fire spirit… Soon there was nothing but fire in front of me, but it was only seconds before it started to calm down. Then he reappeared in the middle of the fire, walking over the flames with his bare feet, giving me the biggest smile.’

Over decades we have heard about the many massive wildfires in southern parts of Australia. I remember a few occasions of sitting with Elders, watching bushfire reports on the news. The old people would watch TV, feeling really sorry for the people and the country.