1 June 2023
SOLAR-POWERED WUTHATHI INDIGENOUS CUSTODIANS RETURN TO COUNTRY
We know our Ngaachi (Country) is very beautiful and we must look after it according to our Lore, it’s our responsibility to protect our Storyplaces, water places and Ngaachi. We still have contact with our Traditional Lands and Sea Country. Our culture and ceremony are strong, and we know our Country in a traditional sense.
For the first time in 200 years, solar power is helping Wuthathi Peoples to return to Cape York Peninsula, to live and work on Country since being removed by colonisation. Together with the support of WWF-Australia, LONGi and the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CfAT), the Wuthathi Custodians are now caring for Wuthathi Country from their 100% renewables-powered ranger base.
“Wuthathi Country is situated on the east side of Cape York Peninsula, so about two and a half hours drive south from the tip of Australia”, Wuthathi Land and Sea Custodian Coordinator Clayton Enoch explains. Wuthathi Country runs all the way from Captain Billy's Landing down to the Olive River, and includes Sea Country from Shelburne Bay out to Thukuruu (Raine Island), the outer Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea.
“Wuthathi Country is made up of numerous different habitats and ecosystems”, Clayton says. The Uutakaa (dingo), Uthiini (cassowary), Uuwana (emu) are totem species with major significance to Wuthathi Country. To Wuthathi Peoples, it is vital that they be supported in their rightful roles as protectors of their totem species’ home. Having a solar-powered ranger base is already proving to be an invaluable asset.
Wuthathi Custodians are managing the land, and solar power is helping to make this happen. Wuthathi now has capacity for four Traditional Custodians to be living and working on Country, using the ranger base as a hub. Since June of last year, renewables are now powering the ranger base, including their living quarters, office, kitchen, and bathroom - everything needed for Custodians to live and work on Country. A new hot water system has now been installed, and wifi internet access has been set up.
“We've got people living back on Country, working and looking after it. Now the place is running really good”, Clayton says.
That technology is facilitating ancient Indigenous practices returning to Country is no strange surprise to those in the know. “Aboriginal people have been interacting with science and technology for thousands of years”, explains Peter Renehan, CEO at. Peter believes that technologically and holistically supporting the agency of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Custodians in caring for their Traditional lands from the outset is imperative. “If First Peoples can be involved in the development of land management infrastructure for their communities, they can play an active role in maintaining it and looking after it into the future.”
The Wuthathi Custodians are already hard at work, protecting Land and Sea Country, keeping them pristine so that future Wuthathi generations can access them to hunt and gather food, and continue traditional practices. “We've been currently doing a few different projects”, Clayton reveals. “Seagrass monitoring, bush surveys. We've just had all our old tracks upgraded and mulched and to make easier access for Custodians to make getting out on Country a bit better.” Without solar power, this activity would either be extremely difficult or impossible.
“Because of where we're situated, it's an hour one way just to get fuel for a diesel generator”, Clayton explains. “We went solar because of that reason, because we wanted the best for the range of base.”
You can't look after Country if you can't be on Country. And you can't be on Country if you don't have that infrastructure that makes it possible to live and work comfortably on Country. solar power is really the key.
Regional Manager, QLD at Centre for Appropriate Technology (CfAT) Ltd
Partnership with renewable energy companies likeis going to help more remote Indigenous ranger groups achieve their conservation goals. “What solar technology is doing for a community is empowering the Custodians to have their base, to look after their land, and to have a presence in their land where they couldn't before”, says LONGi Australia’s Andres Novoa. “WWF is taking a big step in putting in a lot of effort and focus on renewables, which is amazing. And partnering with these communities, it just makes sense."
Centre for Appropriate Technology (CfAT) Ltd’s Peter Renehan couldn’t agree more. “There's a lot of conservation land assets now that are being returned back to Aboriginal people. For them to be able to live there sustainably, renewable energy is the best fit for it.”
“Finally our people can get back on Country and start looking after the place properly”, Clayton says. “just to see their faces light up when they first got there, that's sort of hits your heart really”.
would like to acknowledge the support of the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation.