Connecting to country through cultural immersion

Member News image The session was led by Wadawurrung man Barry Gilson


Two cultural immersion sessions held in historically significant areas of Victoria have helped CFA members better connect to the country they live and work in and fight fire on.



The second session, held at Wurdi Youang in the You Yangs National Park on 20 June, was led by Wadawurrung man Barry Gilson, who took participants through the park, showing areas of cultural significance and speaking on the Indigenous history of the location.

“What we’re doing today is, CFA are wanting to know a bit more about Wadawurrung culture, and a few stories of the past,” Barry said. 

“Around here, the You Yangs, they’re wanting to know a bit more deeply the connection I have, and how they can learn from that.”

Barry noted that firefighting methods have been used in Indigenous culture for thousands of years, and CFA members could benefit from learning about the traditional methods.

“They [firefighters] are the ones who have to burn off, so to speak.”

“We used to burn off quite regularly. We used to have a process called Coranderrk, which is fire-stick farming, where we take our fire sticks and burn in circles, and animals have an escape route. And then we just burn off, create new germination from the seeds that are sometimes under the ground.”

“The country’s borne from fire, it needs it…it’s all part of the regeneration of the whole place.”

Roger Buckle, Captain of Lara Fire Brigade and Geelong Group Officer, said that the experience helped him to better understand the history of the local area.

“My expectations [coming into the session] were that I’d learn more and get closer to the Indigenous story of the area.”

“It’s not the first session I’ve been to, and it was good to hear familiar stories repeated, and new stories told that were specific to the area.”

Roger said that the session would help him on the fireground.

“Whilst the session wasn’t specifically about firefighting, it reinforced the need we all have to understand Indigenous landscape and Indigenous areas related to story and how we need to protect them and not damage them with our firefighting.”

CFA is currently recognising NAIDOC Week, a week-long celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, history and achievements. During NAIDOC Week, CFA will be sharing a number of stories that look at how we can better understand how Traditional Owners manage the land. Find out more about NAIDOC Week at

This event was coordinated by Volunteer Sustainability Team, Inclusion and Fairness, funded by Safer Together and supported by the CFA Friends of KIAP group. This event is aligned to CFA's Koori Inclusion Action Plan, which is currently under review.



  • Member News imageParticipants took part in a smoking ceremony to open the day
  • Member News image CFA members learnt more about their local landscape
  • Member News image Barry taught participants about the rich culture and history of the area
Submitted by Tiahn Wright