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Launch of the Djandak Wi ('Country fire') strategy


The Dja Dja Wurrung (Djaara) are recognised as the traditional owners of a large section of central Victoria. In recent years Djaara and its enterprise DJANDAK have been re-introducing Djandak Wi (‘Country Fire’ in language) to the land since 2017. They are widely recognised as leaders in fire management among First Nations groups, and the launch of their Djandak Wi Strategy further cements this reputation.

The strategy was launched at Gutjin Bulok (Tang Tang Swamp), near Dingee, which is north of Bendigo on May 22 2024. More than 100 people attended the launch, which featured a smoking ceremony, dances which explained some of the cultural dimensions of fire, a Q&A with cultural fire practioners, and a demonstration of cultural burning. FoE was in attendance and the following is a brief report on the strategy and vision behind it.

The strategy articulates DJAARA’s vision for Djandak Wi: the aim of which is for Djaara to be empowered to conduct Djandak Wi ‘at the right time, in the right way, and in the right place according to what Djandak (Country) needs’.

It lays out the pathway to achieve the DJAARA vision of burning. This strategy additionally ‘provides an important blueprint for Traditional Owner led burning practices and fire management in Victoria’.

Funding from the Victorian Government’s Cultural Fire Grants program in 2022 enabled DJAARA to build capacity and expand the Djandak Wi program and develop the Djandak Wi Strategy.

At the launch, the Dja Dja Wurrung Group CEO said that:



“Dja Dja Wurrung People have been using fire to actively shape and manage the landscape for tens of thousands of years. Country has evolved over millennia to depend on Djandak Wi.

“But for several generations, this cultural practice was interrupted as Dja Dja Wurrung People were unable to access and carry out cultural practices on many parts of Djandak (Dja Dja Wurrung Country) because of colonisation.

“The interruption of Djandak Wi has profoundly changed fire patterns, which has contributed to large, intense fires, and the decline of species. It has had a detrimental effect – not just on Country, but also on us as a People.

“For us, Djandak Wi is important on many different levels: it’s a spiritual practice, it’s a social practice, we use it for ceremony – and it’s important in caring for Country, which in turn cares for us.

“Djandak Wi is a critical part of the conversation about fire management and landscape management in Victoria. DJAARA’s new strategy is bringing that conversation into the mainstream.”

The strategy contains the following statement about Djaara approach to Country fire:

“Djaara know when Djandak is sick and needs Djandak Wi. Djandak Wi is a Cultural  landscape management tool. Healthy Djandak needs Djaara and our custom of Djandak Wi to protect significant places, protect Malamiya (Cultural Heritage), and converse with Wi Murrup (fire spirit). Our plants need Djandak Wi for renewal, to re-set dominance, to prompt germination, and to break seed dormancy. Our animals and fungi need Djandak Wi to rearrange habitat and food, remove dead growth, and promote green growth for food. Djandak Wi is as important as sun and rain, and its exclusion has led to profound changes to our Djandak”. (page 9).

IMAGE: Lomandra re-sprouting after cultural burn, Gutjin Bulok (Tang Tang Swamp). Image: Oli Moraes.


ABOVE: Location of Djandak Wi that has occurred since 2017.

Further information

You can read the media release about the launch here:

You can read the strategy here:

You can read the FoE primer on cultural burning here.

HEADER IMAGE: the launch event. Photo by DJAARA.

Other images: DJARRA led cultural burn, Bendigo, 2023.



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