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Nyul Nyul Rangers supporting Native Title Trial

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Justice North and some of the Nyul Nyul Rangers
Justice North and some of the Nyul Nyul Rangers
8 Apr 2016

Over the past 10 years, evidence has been gathered to prove a continuing connection to country for the people who live in the iconic community of Beagle Bay, north of Broome in the Dampier Peninsula in Western Australia.

During this time the Nyul Nyul Rangers, based in Beagle Bay, also assisted the Kimberley Land Council with logistics, meetings and countless tasks.

In 2014 it was clear the Bindunbur Native Title Claim would go to trial.

The rangers planned ahead, and dedicated an entire month in their work plan to prepare and support the daily sessions of the Federal Court on country in multiple locations across the peninsula.

The Nyul Nyul rangers are a team of seven Working on Country Rangers, four Green Army Rangers, a KLC Ranger Coordinator and an Administration Support Officer. The group is one of the youngest in the Kimberley with some rangers beginning work at 16 years of age.

This has made the ranger group’s relationship with their Healthy Country Advisory Committee all the more important, ensuring the senior traditional owners give the rangers cultural guidance, assistance with hiring new rangers and helping to set their work plan in a way that continues local cultural practices and looks after country.

During the Native Title Trial, the rangers set up the infrastructure needed for sessions of court to be held in remote locations, with up to 100 people needing to be fed and watered, and provided with ample seating and shade.

At the end of the on-country sessions of the trial, the Hon. Justice A M North highly praised the rangers.

“I’d like to say something to the Nyul Nyul Rangers. I’ve seen the process of organisation through the rep bodies, and particularly the Kimberley Land Council, how it’s got better and better and better. And this time has been absolutely the best that I’ve experienced. So, that deserves a big appreciation, a big thank you, and you can feel really proud that you’re part of this process of bringing the white man’s law into your country,” Justice North said.

Several of the younger rangers, both men and women, also provided evidence during the trial including Preston Cox, Nyul Nyul Head Ranger.

“From my perception in leading the mobile court convoy, the preparation and setup by our ranger team was excellent. The commitment, dedication and teamwork was amazing. We had to adapt to last minute changes, problem solve, improvise in the bush, and even fight a wildfire. Our women rangers are amazing chefs,” he said.

“Without the ranger programme, these young adults may not have had jobs available to them in Beagle Bay, they may not have had as many opportunities to learn, express and value their culture and the Native Title Trial would not have had anywhere near as many confident, articulate, knowledgeable and impressive witnesses to call on,” Preston said.

 The trial will continue over the coming months. 

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Across Australia, rangers are working to protect environment and cultural heritage.

The Kimberley Ranger Network is creating jobs, career paths and caring for country.

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