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.