Media Release: New Ethnobotanical book celebrates the depth of traditional knowledge of native plants on Murujuga

Media Release: New Ethnobotanical book celebrates the depth of traditional knowledge of native plants on Murujuga

(L-R) Peter Cooper (MAC Ranger), Vicki Long (Botanist, Vicki Long & Associates), Richard Variakojis (MAC Ranger) and Sean-Paul Stephens (Senior Corporate Affairs Advisor, Indigenous Corporate Affairs, Woodside) on Murujuga country with the Ethnobotanical book “Living Knowledge: The Plants of Murujuga”.

  • Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation (MAC), with funding assistance from the Pluto Joint Venture, reveals a wealth of traditional knowledge about the plant species located on Murujuga (Burrup Peninsula and Dampier Archipelago). 

  • Five Traditional Custodian groups, the Yaburara, Ngarluma, Yindjibarndi, Mardudhunera and Wong-Goo-Tt-Oo, participated in fieldwork and the sharing of knowledge to inform the book.
  • MAC is focused on the sharing of cultural knowledge with the broader community to help build a shared pride in the ancient history of Australia which is a critical element in the journey towards reconciliation. 

An exciting new book sharing traditional knowledge about plant species located on Murujuga (Burrup Peninsula and Dampier Archipelago), shines a light on the unique environment and living knowledge gathered over thousands of years by Aboriginal people.

The book Living Knowledge: The Plants of Murujuga, celebrates and shares the traditional uses of a vast collection of plants which, as part of this project, have also been lodged with the West Australian Herbarium for future use and reference.

The project commenced in 2008 during heritage surveys conducted for Woodside’s Pluto LNG facilities after Traditional Custodians requested support from the company to conduct studies into traditional uses of plants in the area. An additional two surveys were conducted in 2009 and 2011 with the support of Woodside.

The book’s content was collated and curated over the past year and published this month.

Local Botanist Vicki Long, involved since the beginning of the project, described the location of the Peninsula and its native flora, as unlike anything else in the Pilbara.

“The arid landscape, proximity to the ocean, rocky slopes and high humidity provide the perfect setting for micro niches and a diversity of species,” Ms Long said.

“This is what makes Murujuga such an interesting environment, and why preserving and recording this information is so important. To receive the local Aboriginal knowledge on top of this is so important and will ensure the information can be shared with future generations.

“By recording these species, it provides a window into the past on how Traditional Owners lived and used these plants,” said Ms Long.

MAC Chief Executive Officer Peter Jeffries acknowledged all involved and said the new book will play an important role in continuing to share knowledge about Aboriginal culture with the broader community, helping strengthen the shared pride we have in the ancient history of Australia.

“This is a tremendous effort over many years by all involved, and to see the final product come to life as an invaluable information source for our Rangers and the broader community is a great result,” Mr Jeffries said.

“What makes this book even more special is the collaboration by our five Traditional Custodian groups which form the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation, the Yaburara, Ngarluma, Yindjibarndi, Mardudhunera and Wong-Goo-Tt-Oo.

“To have everyone working together to share and protect the traditional knowledge of Murujuga is very special and is why I remain very confident that we will secure World Heritage Listing for the area in 2023,” said Mr Jeffries.

Mr Peter Jeffries acknowledged the book would not be possible without the funding support from Woodside.

“I want to thank Woodside, and Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Meg O’Neill, for their support and patience for what has been an exciting and valuable project to work on,” Mr Jeffries said.

“I am proud of the team for producing the first of hopefully many ‘living knowledge’ books about Murujuga,” Mr Jeffries said.

Woodside CEO and Managing Director Meg O’Neill stressed the importance of protecting and learning from Aboriginal heritage, knowledge and culture.

“This book is the result of many years of hard work, dedication and commitment to recording and preserving the various plant species, but more importantly, the knowledge of the Ngarda-Ngarli,” Ms O’Neill said.

“We are delighted to have been invited to take part in this project and look forward to continuing to work with the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation on other projects, and to contributing to the sharing of knowledge of Aboriginal culture, heritage and history,” said Ms O’Neill.

Living Knowledge: The Plants of Murujuga retails at $45.95 and is currently available for purchase in person at the Karratha Visitor Centre and Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation headquarters, or by calling 08 9144 4112.