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WIRLBURU NEWSletter September 2019

Wirlburugun yamanji yinambarrun ngurrangurragun.

In Wirlburu the sea breeze starts to blow in the afternoon.

Official Opening of Liyan-ngan Nyirrwa Centre

The Liyan-ngan Nyirrwa Centre was a hive of activity on 28 June as NBY welcomed about 300 guests for the official opening of its fantastic new facility.

It was a privilege to welcome dignitaries and local community members to the centre for the event. Our most senior community members created a wonderful atmosphere with a smoking ceremony around the mosaic and guests mingled, explored the Bugarrigarra Nyurdany exhibition and enjoyed the gardens in the barrgana season evening while kids were busy in the sculptural play area.

Speeches from Minister Melissa Price, Treasurer Ben Wyatt, Peter Yu and Thomas ‘Unda’ Edgar all recognised the value of this centre to deliver on NBY’s community obligations as well as developing an enterprise element and creating a space for sharing Yawuru culture with local and visitor communities. Songs from the Walalangga Singers and the combined school choirs provided entertainment and conveyed the strength of Yawuru culture across generations.

While the centre has been open and running for a few months, the official opening was an opportunity to publicly celebrate the efforts of everyone who has been involved over the many years of planning, community engagement, design and construction.


Ngaji gurrjin,

Gala mabu to everyone who attended the opening of our Liyan-ngan Nyirrwa Cultural Wellbeing Centre. It was a great evening and also a great way to kick off Kularri NAIDOC week here in Broome. The well-attended and vibrant event brought different sectors of the community together and we all felt the positive liyan that we hope is part of NBY every day. It’s also been really heartening to see our facility and the café grounds busy with locals, visitors and our partners for meetings and catch ups.

It’s good to be back on the ground in Broome after spending a lot of time travelling. Most recently I was at the Developing Northern Australia Conference in Karratha in July and delivered a keynote address in my role as Chair of the Northern Australia Indigenous Reference Group. Prosperity in the north cannot be achieved without full participation of Indigenous people and that prosperity is not solely economic. It must also include environmental and cultural values which allow all our diverse communities to thrive and be empowered for their future growth.

At NBY we continue to work on Yawuru’s long term prosperity and are honing an updated corporate structure that will allow us to adapt as new developments expand our capacity. It can be challenging for us all, but we have team members and partnerships working alongside us and we are looking towards a consolidated position that will open up more opportunities for enterprise growth. We will keep you up to date with news.





Minyirr Park fire and the Women Country Managers

The recent fire in Minyirr Park had a devastating impact on Minyirr Park, and in particular the Monsoon Vine Thickets which are a federally listed Threatened Ecological Community (TEC). This is where the Yawuru Women Country Managers’ regeneration project is based. Monsoon Vine Thickets are highly valued as they support a large range of species and create habitats for plants and animals. They also have strong cultural values. The project focusses on weed elimination and revegetation in the Minyirr Buru Conservation Park, jointly managed by Yawuru and the Shire of Broome. Environs Kimberley, TAFE and Parks and Wildlife are partners in the project.

Since the beginning of the year the women’s team, who have recently been joined by Camille Bernard and Sharee Dolby, have eliminated weeds, collected seeds, propagated plants and re-vegetated the bushland in the popular public park. The wild fire which broke out on 4th August destroyed more than 16 hectares of monsoon vine thickets in the north end of the park alongside Cable Beach.

Monica Edgar, Yawuru Jarndu Country Managers Team Leader
“It’s pretty devastating to see the impact of this fire on the ground. Some of it might come back, but those old growth areas with large trees and complex ecosystems have been badly damaged. I’m just glad we have good management plans with our partners and that the loss wasn’t any worse. We know the community values this public space and we ask them to let us or the Shire know if they see any illegal fire activity, and to help us all look after these precious dune systems” - Monica Edgar


Some of the Environmental Services team recently hit the road and travelled across the Kimberley to Home Valley Station for the Healthy Country Forum. There they joined over 100 other Indigenous rangers, project officers, researchers and others to share their knowledge and experience.

Dean Mathews and Daniel Oades gave a presentation on the Indigenous Saltwater Advisory Group (ISWAG) which has developed relationships with a number of researchers and scientists on a range of research projects that unite western science and traditional knowledge. The presentation was very well received and we hope to see other similar groups in different areas in the future.

Dean Mathews and Julie Melbourne also participated in a session discussing how joint management has worked for Yawuru.

Working towards an Indigenous Fishing Strategy

Dean Mathews, Senior Project Officer, travelled to Adelaide recently to join Indigenous groups from around Australia for a customary fishing workshop. Yawuru and other Kimberley saltwater groups have been working on understanding traditional fishing activity and an opportunity to exchange practice and policies with interstate counterparts was very exciting.

Dean said “We discovered that we have similarities with other groups and these common experiences gave us a starting point. It was also really good to hear that some state Fisheries teams already have Indigenous engagement roles and that’s something we would really like to see in WA”.

The aim is to develop a WA Indigenous Fishing Strategy which would recognise the unique status of Indigenous customary practice and open up opportunities for sustainable and commercial practices. The NBY Environmental Services team recently met with the Minister for Fisheries to get support for a review of the 2007 Draft Indigenous Fishing Strategy prepared by the state government after extensive consultation with Indigenous communities.

Yawuru and other saltwater ranger groups meeting to discuss the WA Indigenous Fishing Strategy at Liyan Centre

The Wildlife Sanctuary

Some of NBY’s Environmental Services team and cultural leaders are heading to the ACT to visit the Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary. The fenced sanctuary protects and restores a diversity of woodland plants and animals and provides a scientific setting for studying woodlands and ecosystem restoration. The Environmental Services team will be received in Canberra by the traditional owners. The team will also meet the team from Mulligans Flat and find out how the sanctuary is run and the species that have been reintroduced. It’s a large scale project and this journey is to find out more about how a similar project on Yawuru country may offer opportunities for sharing culture, conservation, research, eco-tourism, education and training.

There will be a community meeting on 16th October so that the group can report their experiences and findings. We will be keen to talk with people about their interest in a project such as this.

The cane toad project

In collaboration with Yawuru the University of Sydney project aimed to survey two sites on Yawuru Country to assess the number of goannas ahead of the arrival of cane toads in the West Kimberley.

Data has now been collected by the University and Indigenous communities from 51 sites across northern and eastern Australia to find out how goannas are doing in the long-term after cane toads invade. The results of recent surveys undertaken on Yawuru country in areas ahead of cane toad arrival were extremely successful, and indicated very healthy populations of goannas. The survey revealed that Yawuru country has an area with the most yellow-spotted monitors. Deep Creek had the highest number of these goannas and Seven Mile also had very high numbers.

Yawuru will continue to be involved in the next stage of the project.


Kullarri NAIDOC Week

Broome kicked off NAIDOC celebrations a week earlier than the rest of the nation to ensure participation by schools across the region. The annual NAIDOC Walk through Chinatown was one of the largest ever seen and we were happy to welcome Treasurer Ben Wyatt to the official launch of the week’s activities and flag raising at the Shire offices.

Congratulations to everyone who was acknowledged with awards at the NAIDOC Awards dinner, but we’d like to give a special congratulations to Philip Matsumoto, Yawuru PBC Board Director who was awarded Person of the Year. Nini Mills received the Community Leadership Award and Maxine Charlie, Chair of Yawuru’s Murra Mala Yawuru holding company was recognised for her Contribution to Culture and Arts.

Our cultural team of Maree Edgar and Natasha Matsumoto and others, led by Di Appleby, hosted the “Yagarrmabulanyji Jarndunil: Women Coming Together” event at Gubununya. This was the second year of the event and it was great to be part of the day with about 100 women who came together for cultural and traditional activities and cooking on country. Martha Lee led the silk dying workshop which was very popular, and Amy Anderson and Blondie Hunter shared their crochet and weaving skills. Everyone returned to town with good liyan and their beautiful craft artefacts. We’d also like to thank the participants in the Warrmijala Murrgurlayi: Rise Up to Work program for preparing the area and building us a fire pit.

Co-design workshops for youth housing

At the beginning of August NBY facilitated an Intensive Design Program at the Liyan-ngan Nyirrwa centre to co-design concepts for a youth accommodation and training/education facility in Broome. Visiting specialists from Engineers Without Borders (EWB), landscape architects UDLA and Community Housing Limited (CHL) worked with a group of 12 young Yawuru community members intensively over the week to problem solve issues around access to housing, work and training.

The group collaborated and refined concepts for a versatile facility over a number of workshop days and time spent on country with elders and cultural specialists. The aim is to improve access and opportunities for locals and other young people coming into Broome to advance their education or training. The workshops culminated in a visual presentation and also in a song that communicated the experience and passion of the participants and their hopes for seeing their vision become a reality in the future.

Work and training

The Transition to Work team has welcomed Joseph Bin Omar to the team as a Case Manager and together the team has been supporting our local young people. It makes us proud to see the successes of all our participants.

Congratulations to the first round of participants to graduate from the Warrmijala Murrgurlayi Rise up to work program. Sharee Dolby has joined the Yawuru Women Country Managers team and they are working on the revegetation project in Minyirr Park. Erikka Banks also continues to do well and she has progressed onto completing her Certificate II in Business.

Traelyn Aiken is touring to Belgium and France to perform in “Song for the Mardoowarra” a puppetry theatre show inspired by the Nyikina story of the creation of the Mardoowarra-Fitzroy River.

Kevaron Shandley has impressed his employer, Roebuck Plains Station, and has been offered ongoing permanent employment at the completion of his Station Hand Traineeship. Dylan Sebastian is learning lots of new skills from his workmates at Neds Contracting and Benny Manado is studying Certificate 1 Automotive with BJ Network Consulting at Right Place Auto.

Liyan-ngan Nyirrwa

The Liyan centre has come alive, and has been very busy with events including cultural immersions, housing workshops and a graduation for the inaugural Thunderbird Group Training Program. Everyone in the program successfully graduated with a Certificate 3 in Civil Construction. And a special mention to Talissa Kinley, a Yawuru woman who is the first female graduate of the training program.

The centre also hosted the WACOSS Board meeting in July and welcomed the group with evening canapes and drinks.

The Mabu Mayi Café

Our Mabu Mayi Café has become a popular place for many locals to meet, and it’s also servicing the Liyan Centre for catering and events. The events facility within our beautiful grounds has quickly become a significant part of our NBY offering and we are happy to complement these events with cultural welcomes and other features. To improve delivery for this vibrant function centre we are expanding our catering capacity. We’re currently doing a few minor kitchen upgrades and reviewing our menu and delivery to ensure we can continue to juggle both these activities, and keep the liyan present through our unique Yawuru style.

We’ll be open again with a new menu enhancing local Broome flavours, more staff and more events coming up.

See you at Mabu Mayi


Bugarrigarra Nyurdany – Because of the Dreaming

The exhibition Bugarrigarra Nyurdany – Because of the Dreaming was mounted in the Liyan-ngan Nyirrwa Cultural Wellbeing Centre during NAIDOC Week. The Liyan centre made a wonderful venue and it was great to see so many visitors and school students being toured through the grounds and engaging with our Yawuru guides who shared their knowledge and experience with the country, culture and heritage on display.

Told through the cycle of the six Yawuru seasons, the exhibition tells the story of survival and resilience of Yawuru people and their country in the face of the tremendous upheavals of the colonial encounter. Elements of the exhibition will be displayed over the year, with seasonal artefacts and artworks on show in the Liyan centre. Other elements are on permanent display in the NBY foyer, including the fascinating dioramas made by 2017 Transition to Work participants.

Repatriation of ancestors

Following the emotional repatriation in May of Yawuru and Karajarri ancestral remains from German institutions, work is continuing on the Wanggajarli Burugun repatriation project. Yawuru is working with national and international institutions on returning the remains of other ancestors who are still kept in museum collections, including the British Natural History Museum.

NBY’s Naomi Appleby is one of six Indigenous people from around the country to have been awarded an Encounters Fellowship from the ANU and her project is focusing on this important project. Naomi is working on research and relationships that will improve the repatriation outcomes, and on the final resting place for the ancestors.

There are a number of sets of remains in the Kimberley, in Perth and elsewhere which need to be returned and interred in a respectful way that recognises the colonial practice of treating Indigenous people as objects and curiosities. A significant memorial resting place is being developed to tell the story of colonial encounters and as a site for reconciliation for the whole community, acknowledging history and moving forward together.

A language party

NBY hosted a ‘Language Party’ for the annual Corrugated Lines Festival of Words, on 9 August. The evening event drew a crowd who relaxed on the lawns at the Liyan centre to listen to the Indigenous stories from around the world. The storytellers spoke in their mother tongue and shared insights into the cultural heritage through language.

Steven Bird, who initiated the concept, hosted the evening and introduced Natalie Dean and Anjo Phillips for the Yawuru story of Janyju the red lizard. Bobby Chew Bigby shared a Cherokee story and Louise Perrott and Kelly Stephens spoke in Maori. Irene Huang spoke in Taiwanese Hokkien and Marcia Cook performed a charming Walmajarri story using felt animals to illustrate the action.

Gala mabu (thank you) to everyone who contributed to the evening and celebrated these stories in the UN Year of Indigenous Languages.


There are currently a number of large scale projects that are reaching a critical stage of development and NBY has welcomed Adrian Duca to the Economic Development team for a few months. Adrian is seconded from the Department of Premier and Cabinet to work on the collaborative Broome Health and Wellbeing Campus project. The Campus, located on Yawuru land, will co-locate a range of health services that will improve access for locals and visitors to town and deliver upgraded Indigenous–led services for the community, underscored by the holistic philosophy of mabu liyan. The team are also working together on the proposed Broome Homemakers Centre project and on NBY’s involvement in the early stage development of the new Broome Custodial Facility.

Peter Yu, Alex Crawford, Shane Stewart, Adrian Duca and Paul Hope

We have also welcomed Shane Stewart to NBY as Chief Financial Officer. Shane has many years of financial management experience and is consolidating the restructured economic development and finances area to meet growth within the organisation.

Liyan-ngan Nyirrwa Cultural Wellbeing Centre


The Liyan-ngan Nyirrwa Cultural Wellbeing Centre is a community-focused venue has professional staff and state of the art facilities and can accommodate up to 100 people in a comfortable, architect-designed building set amongst a relaxing garden landscape.

PH 08 9192 9600

PO Box 425, Broome WA 6725

55 Reid Rd, Cable Beach WA 6726