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MHS Library | Wominjeka Project (Year 9)

How has fire shaped our community and landscape?

How Indigenous fire management practices could protect bushland | Australian Story

The Australian Story episode, ‘How Indigenous fire management practices could protect bushland’ is worthwhile viewing for students. The story looks at Cultural Fire Practitioner Victor Steffensen and his work to learn land management techniques from First Nations Elders to help combat future bushfires, such as those seen in the summer of 2019–20. He videos his interactions with Elders so the knowledge shared with him can be shared with others and not lost (26:52)

How Indigenous fire management practices could protect bushland | Australian story [Video]. (2020, April 13). YouTube.

What are the issues involved in FIRE?

Bushfires and fuel reduction burning 

Assessing the effectiveness of fuel reduction burns needs to begin with understanding fires and the characteristics that shape how hot they burn and how fast they spread. 


Bushfires and fuel reduction burning. (2022). Home – Parliament of Australia. Retrieved October 20, 2022, from


Published by Parliament of Australia

Australian bushfires - FAQs 


How much land was burned?
How many species have become endangered/extinct?
What caused the 2019–20 Australian bushfires?
What inquiries were conducted?
State and territory inquiries
What were the health impacts from the bushfires?

First Nations Peoples use of fire for sustainability of the land First Nations people have been practising sustainable methods for thousands of years, which has seen them care for the land, which in turn, has cared for them. This connection to Country has allowed First Nations people to accumulate a vast knowledge of plants, animals, seasons and the night sky (Australian Museum 2021). With this knowledge, they use fire to maintain and manage the land, which allows the regeneration of flora, provides safe environments for animals, limits greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere and prevents large scale bushfires during the dry season (The Nature Conservancy Australia 2021).
Making fire Historically, in many cultures it was common for one method of fire making to have been used. In Australia, however, there is evidence of four different methods being used by First Nations people, with the possibility of some having knowledge of at least three of these. Having this knowledge allowed for fire to be created in a variety of conditions, being able to use whatever materials were available in the given locations and climate. These four methods are the fire drill, fire saw, fire plough and percussion (ACARA 2021)


2019–20 Australian bushfires—frequently asked questions (updates). (n.d.). Home – Parliament of Australia.

Find out why Australia is experiencing more intense bushfires

The video, New Normal? Climate Change and the Australian Bushfires, by the Centre for Strategic & International Studies, looks at how Australia is experiencing more bushfires at a larger intensity due to climate change. It also examines extreme weather patterns in other countries around the world (02:18):

Centre for Strategic and International Studies. (2020, February 11). New normal? Climate change and the Australian bushfires [Video]. YouTube.

Moore's timber yard fire, 1893

  DESTRUCTIVE FIRE AT MOORE’S TIMBER YARD, CITY-ROAD [Melbourne, Vic.] [picture]. (1893). David Syme and Co.

Aboriginal Tradition Could Prevent Bushfires in Australia

Australian Aboriginal people have used fire to stop wildfires for thousands of years. Many see it as a solution for the devastating blazes that have ravaged the country.


Aboriginal tradition could prevent bushfires in Australia [Video]. (n.d.). YouTube.

Fire resistant and retardant plants can play a role in reducing fire damage.

Fire resistant and retardant plants 

These plants have been found to provide some degree of protection during bushfires. The lists were compiled by Mr Neil Marriott based on the experiences of APS Victoria members, many of whom have properties in fire-prone areas which have been affected by bushfires.


Fire resistant and retardant plants. (n.d.). Australian Plants Society Victoria.


Read abut Pyrophytic plants

If you're thinking of throwing your old garden waste on the bonfire, choose wisely! Some plants are fireproof, so trying to burn them will be a waste of your time. Conversely, other plants would engulf you in a firestorm.


PimlicoDan. (2019, November 4). Pyrophytes: Nature's fireproof plants - Discover | Candide. Candide.

Black Summer: Australian newspaper reporting of the nation’s worst bushfire season

Read about the climate conditions that shaped Black Summer in 2019, Australia's warmest year on record.


Burgess, T. Burgmann, JR. Hall, S. Holmes, D. and Turner, E. (2020) Black Summer: Australian newspaper reporting on the nation’s worst bushfire season, Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub, Monash University, Melbourne, pp. 30

Scientists urge reassessment of threatened species after Australian bushfires

Scientists urge reassessment of threatened species after Australian bushfires

Land and fire management of First Nations Peoples. In the video, Bruce Pascoe looks at how successfully First Nations Peoples have managed fire and Country for thousands of years. He invites us to reflect on the lessons that can be learnt from the 2019–20 summer bushfires along the east coast of Australia, as we face worsening climate damage (04:10):

Scientists urge reassessment of threatened species after Australian bushfires. (2020, August 14). Mongabay Environmental News.

Environment Victoria. (2020, May 28). Bruce Pascoe: lessons from 120,000 years of Aboriginal land and fire management [Video]. YouTube.

Aboriginal land management prior to 1788

Aboriginal land management prior to 1788  

Read this article from Nalderunabout Aboriginal land management prior to 1788 and the impact it had on the landscape. It gives us insight into what the landscape might have looked like before the changes that have taken place over the past two centuries. 


Aboriginal land management prior to 1788. (n.d.). Connecting Country – Restoring landscapes across Mount Alexander Shire.



CFA (Country Fire Authority) involvement in major fires.

Major Fires. (2019).

CFA (Country Fire Authority) involvement in major fires.

Major Fires. (2019).

CFA Emergency Response Times - Victorian Government Data Directory. (2022).