Gulngay traditional owners are leading a new project to improve a Tully wetland system that flows to the ocean and Great Barrier Reef lagoon.

Water-testing and fish surveys are underway at Gabun, or Barrett’s Lagoon, as part of a bigger initiative that is also training up the younger generation and bringing them onto Country.

Elder Doris Kinjun said Gulngay people were “river people” who remembered large numbers of ‘gabun’ – the Gulngay name for a small migratory gudgeon – in the lagoon system south-east of Tully.

“Now we hardly see them there. This project is ‘Bringing back Gabun’,’’ she said.

“Everything is important here – the fish, the plants, the birds. We used to take grasses for weaving. The plants filter runoff from the land. Everything is connected.

“We want to bring life back to the lagoon. It’s a spiritual connection to us, to see the life return.”

Gabun, or Barrett’s Lagoon, is a deep freshwater wetland on the Tully-Murray coastal floodplain that borders cane farming land and is close to national park. At about six hectares, it is one of the district’s largest wetlands and it links with other waterways and wetlands in wet season flood events.

The Gulngay people’s new project follows collaborative work over the last six years from cane farmers, traditional owners, Cassowary Coast Regional Council, Terrain NRM and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service to remove hymenachne from the once weed-choked lagoon.

For the new project, Gulngay people and Terrain NRM worked together to secure a Great Barrier Reef Foundation Healthy Water Grant. This project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

Gulngay is working with Terrain to select sites for water quality monitoring – in inlet creeks beside cane paddocks and national park, at an outlet and in the lagoon itself – to gain a better understanding of lagoon health. Terrain is also helping with water quality monitoring training and data management, while TropWATER is working on fish surveys.

The ‘Bringing back Gabun’ project includes training for Gulngay’s young people in waterway weed management and using fire for weed control, as well as fish surveys, fish barrier assessments and project management.

Results will be added to the region’s water quality and coastal wetland data, and will be used for the annual Wet Tropics Waterway Health Report Card.

Gulngay history and cultural knowledge will also be recorded.

Clarence Kinjun is one of the traditional owners who recently began water sampling at the lagoon. He sees skilling up Gulngay’s younger generations as a priority – to manage, restore and care for Country well into the future.

“The rivers, creeks, waterways and lagoons are important to Gulngay traditional owners,’’ he said. “Healthy waters equal healthy reefs. We’ve seen a lot of improvement at this lagoon over the years through working with everyone, and our hope is for our younger generations to carry on with this work in the future.”

RELATED NEWS

Improving soil and sheep health

Improving soil and sheep health

Soil Template 1
Topaz landholder Kerry Kelly is focusing on the land beneath her sheep's hooves.
Read More
Soil health events

Soil health events

Soil Template 1
Three different workshops on composting, cover cropping and carbon farming opportunities...
Read More
Roller crimper, strip tillage trials

Roller crimper, strip tillage trials

Soil Template 1
Improving soil health on a cane, maize and peanut farm, and tips for doing it yourself...
Read More
1 2 3 13

Leave a Comment