The Yuku Baja Muliku Ranger Program began in 2008 with two part-time rangers living under a tarp at Archer Point, cooking on an open fire. The rangers had minimal equipment and resources, and their transport was a second-hand Hilux.
The Yuku Baja Muliku Rangers are constantly busy building capabilities; inspiring others to return to country; building aspirations; and developing programs to ensure a strong program for future generations.
The ranger program represents our homelands movement and our dream to return to our country. The program provides real jobs and skills development, builds confidence and instills a sense of pride. By focusing on land and sea management we can diversify our income away from government transfers, and towards: contracting services with National Parks, Council and other neighbouring land-holding bodies; the development of ecosystem services; and developing tourism opportunities and infrastructure, such as campsites.
The Yuku Baja Muliku people aim to ensure Traditional Owners have the means to protect themselves, future generations and their culture through active, positive and physical connections to country and continuing access to traditional foods.
The rangers aspire to:
- Care for land and sea country through marine protection and conservation strategies;
- Conduct on ground research and monitoring;
- Undertake training in sea management, with a focus on turtle rescue and sea grass conservation;
- Gain accreditation to carry out compliance checks on hunters on Sea Country;
- Conserve and preserve the cultural values handed down through generations;
- Protect our rights as Traditional Owners to maintain a strong, healthy link to the traditional use of marine resources;
- Educate people about turtle habitats and raise awareness through community education; and
- Continue rescuing, rehabilitating and monitoring turtles.
The Yuku Baja Muliku people want to protect important sites and places of significance that are part of our culturally rich region, including:
- Story places (single and inter-connected);
- Secret or sacred sites;
- Fish traps;
- Rock shelter sites;
- Rocky Island;
- Fish spawning and breeding habitats;
- Ceremonial sites; and
- Camp sites.
As Traditional Custodians of the Archer Point and Annan River land and sea, we possess a unique passion to protect and conserve the area. We ask that others respect our custody, and bring any suggestions or issues with the area to us, as well as consulting with us before planning any activities on Yuku Baja land. Together we can work to ensure our lands are available for all people to enjoy in a safe, appropriate and sustainable way.
- The Traditional Owners wish to ensure that all areas of our homeland (including the coastal strips) are managed and cared for in accordance with our traditional practices, in order to create a sustainable future for ourselves, our families and our communities.
The rangers aim to ensure the natural environment is sufficiently managed and protected by learning from their elders and each other. We also share our concerns and cultural and environmental aspirations with the wider community.
Our Yuku Baja Muliku Rangers are working on country to develop sustainable land and sea management practices for the future, by performing a number of duties, including:
- Turtle rescue and rehabilitation;
- Sea grass and sea turtle monitoring;
- Cultural heritage;
- Junior ranger program;
- Land and sea patrols;
- Fencing projects;
- Fire management on country camps;
- School camps and excursions;
- Weed control;
- Feral animal control;
- Development of visitor infrastructure;
- Income diversification through enterprise;
- Flora and fauna surveys; and
- Day to day management activities.
Yuku Baja Muliku Rangers are constantly working to increase their skills, with training to date including:
- Certificate III and IV in Conservation and Land Management;
- Fire Management Level 1 and 2;
- Shipboard Safety Training;
- Chemical Handling;
- Marine Compliance Eyes and Ears training;
- Marine Statutory Compliance;
- Boat licences;
- Leadership courses with Cape York Institute;
- Fauna identification;
- Sea grass monitoring;
- All terrain and side by side vehicle training;
- Bird identification;
- Manual map reading and compass/GPS work;
- I-Tracker training;
- Database management;
- Shark and ray identification; and
- Mussel monitoring.
The Yuku Baja Muliku Ranger team have developed a junior ranger program to ensure that young people on country can learn from their elders and it also provides an opportunity for non-indigenous people to learn more about the country. The program currently caters to more than 60 Indigenous and non-Indigenous children from the local area, ranging in age from Prep to Year 9.
Activities include building gunyas, weed identification, bird watching, turtle education and crocodile awareness, and much more. The Yuku Baja Muliku Rangers and Junior Rangers hold an annual school holiday camp, which is a highlight of the year for both the adult and youth rangers. The Junior Rangers participate in animal trapping, exploration of bush, land and sea. bird watching, bush walking and many other activities, finishing the day around the fire roasting marshmallows, telling stories and learning new games.
The Yuku Baja Muliku rangers have assisted with a number of school excursions and school camps to teach children about sick and injured marine life and introduce students to turtles in care. Other activities include knot-tying techniques, orienteering, sustainability discussions, traditional spear making, and bush craft.
Yuku Baja Muliku Rangers meet with the Junior Rangers every Thursday afternoon at the Cooktown Youth Block, Junior Ranger Base or Cooktown PCYC Events Centre during the school term from 3pm to 5pm. If you are interested in being involved, please contact our office for further information.