We regularly interview, feature and promote Pollinators members. This time we’re learning more about Hamish Morgan.
Collaborating with Aboriginal owners, State and Federal agencies and the business community to care for country near Wiluna keeps Hamish Morgan’s entrepreneurial skills honed.
Hamish is a Pollinators member who works from CityHive down at the marina whenever he is not out bush where he works for Central Desert Native Title Services to coordinate a natural resource management program with the Martu people near Wiluna. This program is essentially run as a ‘social enterprise’ where social, cultural and environmental outcomes are generated through trading activity (e.g. delivering on contracts, not being dependent on grants).
Martu people care for the Birriliburu Determined Lands, an area of land north east of Wiluna that is roughly a third the size of Victoria. This is just one of the places where Hamish, as part of Central Desert Native Title Services, enables native title holders to use their country for social economic and environmental good.
He says the process involves a mix of cultural practices and modern Natural Resource Management that complement each other well. One of the main tools is burning.
“Traditionally people burnt as often as they could. It was used for hunting as well as the key way to manage country,” he said.
“You stop those really intense summer wild fires which get out of control. They are really hot and intense and they damage the country, particularly Mulga woodland communities which are in decline across the desert due to the changed fire regime. Spring and autumn burns allow the country to regenerate and prevent those destructive wildfires. Its really important to protect those mulga woodland communities because that is where you find biodiversity.”
Hamish says most of the Martu peoples migrated out of the desert to Wiluna in the fifties due to drought.
“Until then the burning practices, the hunting practices, cleaning out of water holes, that were all part of people’s daily lives. Martu managed country in a holistic way and saw themselves very much as managers of country. Part of this included the maintenance of the Tjukurrpa. For example certain people would be responsible for the Dreaming of plants, animals, waterholes and the like – this was a way of ensuring the vitality and interconnectedness of living things. An eco-centric rather than egocentric view of the world,” he said.
“Our programs are essentially people and culture based. We rely on Martu people being the expert land managers and we are really facilitating trips and those relationships with Department of Environment and Conservation and other partners.”
In 2002, fresh from university life in Melbourne, Hamish moved to the Western Desert to experience a culture different to his own. For two years he lived in the Ululla community near Wiluna. He stayed connected with the community while undertaking a PHD in Cultural Studies at the University of Technology in Sydney, returning to live in Geraldton in 2007 to complete his studies.
Hamish loves the desert and encourages people who have pre-conceived ideas about places like Wiluna to find out about remote Australia for themselves.
For more information:
- About Central Desert Native Title Services and to see footage of Hamish and his colleagues in action go to www.centraldesert.org.au.
- On Hamish’s PhD on “..rethinking of community, one without identity..” More
- And some Essay’s on his travels: from Wiluna to Kalgoorlie More, across Australia on the train More and back to the birthplace of one of his Martu colleagues More.