First cultural burn on Country for Walkabout Wildlife Sanctuary


ZAA-accredited Walkabout Wildlife Sanctuary held its first cultural burn in May under the guidance of Traditional Fire Practitioner Den Barber from Yarrabin Cultural Connections.

Aboriginal peoples have been using fire to care for Country for thousands of years. The burn began with a Welcome to Country by Tracey Howie, direct descendent of Bungaree, and a traditional Smoking Ceremony, before putting fire on the ground.

This was a big milestone for the Sanctuary, after having had to evacuate more than 200 animals during the 2020 bushfires. This “cool” burn couldn’t have looked and felt more different to those devastating fires. Dots of fire were ignited so they burned out from the centre in widening circles, putting themselves out when the circles met, the flames staying low leaving the leaves on the trees untouched and the ground cool enough to walk on.


Den Barber from Yarrabin Cultural Connections guides cultural burn on Country at Walkabout Wildlife Park (Guringai and Darkinjung)


Cultural burn at Walkabout Wildlife Sanctuary


Sanctuary owner Tassin Barnard describes “Low flame creeping out in circles across the ground. Clean white smoke. No devastation. No fear. No firefighting. Just watching and yarning. Happy trees. Safe animals. Peaceful people. Immediately after the burn, the bush and wildlife are alive and healthy.”

Partnering with Greater Sydney Local Land Services, the Walkabout Wildlife Sanctuary brought 70 members of the local community together to learn about traditional burning. With 170 acres of native bushland, they aim to make this part of their regular land management practice for fire safety and care of Country.