Stories in this Theme

Grazing management

Cape York has management issues which are quite different to those experienced by graziers elsewhere in Northern Australia. Because many of the properties are only marginally productive, many graziers in Cape York must engage in off-farm employment such as fencing, mustering or supplying tourist facilities. It also means that there is very little capital available for property development.

People in the savanna country have to live with this reality: that managing the country to a large extent means managing fire. Communication, collaboration and education are keys to improving fire management across the north.


Pastoralism began in Cape York Peninsula when the Jardine brothers drove 250 cattle from Bowen to Somerset on the tip of Cape York Peninsula. This epic journey was not because any pastoral paradise was beckoning but rather in response to their father’s need for fresh meat at the establishing settlement of Somerset. Their journal records the spectrum of country in Cape York Peninsula, from forested sand ridges and dense scrubs to waterless, treeless coastal plains and boggy tea tree flats.

Cattlmen mustering

Pastoralism is a major land use, but is only marginally productive in Cape York.

This project has two main aims:

1. To investigate the novel pharmacological actions and chemical compounds of plant species used as traditional medicines from an area of high biodiversity, the Kaanju Homelands centred on the Wenlock and Pascoe Rivers.

2. To facilitate the preservation and transfer of cultural knowledge about these plants among core Kaanju families living on homelands.

Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporation and Kaanju Traditional Owners living on homelands at Chuulangun are working on an on-going Ethno-ecology project with the assistance of ethno-botanist Nick Smith. This project supports a multi-disciplinary approach to the transfer, maintenance and application of local scientific knowledge. The project's main aims are:

Fire is one of the few tools available to pastoral managers on Cape York Peninsula and substantial sums are spent establishing and maintaining firebreaks through the dry season. Without breaks fire can remove fodder, destroy infrastructure and, under some circumstances, induce thickening of the vegetation and loss of biodiversity.

Low Lake is a very large native lagoon within Lakefield National Park, Cape York, which is a special, shared story place belonging to the Lama Lama and Kuku-Thaypan people. The site's perimeter outlined the boundaries to the clans and was a special ceremony area for men to dance. According to traditional laws, you cannot break or take any resources, nor can you throw rocks in the water or take any fish from the lagoon. The area was also strictly forbidden from living activity and was used for ceremony for thousands of generations.

This project aims to enable Kaanju people to develop an integrated and strategic approach to the management of weeds on traditional homelands. Primarily, it seeks resources to develop innovative research methodologies that support on-country consultation to determine cultural priorities for weed management on a clan basis for Kaanju homelands. The project will develop innovative approaches to pest species management that can be used as a model for clan-based weed management in areas outside Kaanju homelands in Cape York Peninsula.

In November 2002, with the assistance of Balkanu Business Hubs, the Chuulangun community developed a tourism business plan, Chuulangun Traditional Aboriginal Camp Ground Proposal. It is proposed that for a fee the following will be provided: