Yundi Nature Conservancy

Posted 19 Oct

Brooke Ferguson

On Saturday 14 October, while Australia was voting to reject recognition and voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples in the constitution,  MOD. invited people to a field trip down to Yundi Nature Conservancy. Eight willing guests came along as part of programming for the Nature Festival and together we went on a guided walk and tour with John Fargher and Mark Koolmatrie.

Who are John and Mark?

John Fargher is the landholder at Yundi, and is an agricultural scientist and natural resource economist who has worked in more than 50 countries for the World Bank, Global Environment Facility and the private sector as well as Australian and other national aid agencies.

Mark Koolmatrie is an enthusiastic Ngarrindjeri storyteller and learner who is engaging Aboriginal people and landholders in a process of re-learning about Aboriginal values and land management practices in the management of aquatic ecosystems in the Ngarrindjeri nation, especially the Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps. Mark is also the owner of award-winning tourism business Kool Tours, providing authentic experiences about Aboriginal history and knowledges, including trips to Yundi.

A mass of land covered in grass is pictured. There are taller, older trees in the background and smaller baby trees in the foreground

What is Yundi?

Yundi is located over land and swamps south of Adelaide, which John and Mark are working to regenerate. They have a particular focus on increasing biodiversity, restoring endangered plant species and capturing carbon. John’s understanding of science and Mark’s Aboriginal knowledges work together, to spark new ideas on how to approach the process of regeneration.

What did we do?

When myself and MOD.’s 8 guests arrived at Yundi we pulled on our gumboots and got straight to work in the swamp with John. We spent a couple of hours weeding and getting to know one another and our surroundings. Removing the weeds gives more space for other plants to grow. Following this, we were joined by Mark for lunch and conversations. We learned about the long Warki history of the Country we were on from Mark, and the shorter history of Yundi’s regeneration efforts, started by Mark and John just 4 years ago. 

Following lunch, we went on another walk through the swamps, this time guided by Mark, as he shared more culture and history with us along the way.

A tall, bushy plant with small purple flowers is the foreground, a swamp and cloudy sky are in the background
A native plant that we were weeding around

What’s next?

The bus ride back to the city was full of enthusiasm and passion as we got to know one another more. Something about looking after nature and working with others put a smile on all our faces. Something about co-learning and willingness to listen to perspectives that offer valuable wisdom. Perhaps we could all do a little bit more of it. 

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