Maps of Western Arnhem Land
The project concerns the vast area (34,000 square kilometre) of sandstone plateau in western Arnhem Land, immediately east of Kakadu National Park. It is a rugged and beautiful landscape, and its cultural and ecological values are considered at least the equal of the neighbouring World Heritage Area.
However, any general understanding of the history and ecology of the Plateau is very recent. After thousands of years of human occupation, the Plateau became effectively depopulated in the years following WW2. Even most Indigenous people now have only limited knowledge of it. This is especially true of the younger generations. Only recently has a concerted effort been made to study the history and ecology of the Plateau, driven by a need to reinstate a means of managing destructive bushfires. This has brought people back into the area, working in collaboration across many fields of interest.
Central to this is artist Lofty Bardayal Nadjamerrek who, nearing eighty, is one of the last surviving people to have grown up on the Plateau. He has a profound commitment to sharing his great knowledge of it. Bardayal has now been working for some years with scientists and others towards the aim of better managing the land. In the process he is revealing much about the history, ecology and cultural aspects of the Plateau that have never been recorded. Bardayal's camp at Kabulwaramyo is the base for land management projects and research on the Plateau.
This is a multi-disciplinary research endeavour. Bardayal and others of his and related clans have been working with scholars from humanities fields such as anthropology and linguistics and from sciences such as botany and zoology. Their range of research extends from the social history of the Plateau's clans to the study of bushfire behavior and its effects both locally and widely in terms of Greenhouse gas production and climate change.