Our woodland plant communities are diverse.

From the dense paperbarks within the Arafura Swamp to open-levee Melaleuca viridiflora woodland at the margins of the swamp and into the uplands, we have highly diverse woodland plant communities.

Further from the coast we have some woodlands dominated by Corymbia latifolia and far inland we find isolated, dense patches of lancewood in dry savannah country. But most of our area is made up of the taller woodlands of Darwin stringybark (Eucalyptus tetrodonta) and woollybutt (Eucalyptus miniata). These are very important trees for us.

The stringybark is Dhuwa moiety and we call it Gardayka. The woolybutt is Yirritja moiety and we call it Badarr. Badarr bark changes color inside with the seasons and the bark is waterproof so we can always make a fire even in the wet. The flowering of the forests of Badarr and Gardayka are most important for many species of sugarbag bees that are celebrated in song and ceremony. When we go hunting with our children they always ask for sugarbag.

When healthy, our woodland fruit trees offer good harvests of green plum, billy goat plum and other bush fruits. It is also an important habitat for animals like glider possums, ringtail possums, many birds, bats and lizards.

The cypress pine (Callitris intratropica) is very important to us as it shows us where there is underground water. The cypress doesn’t like fire and if it dies we worry because it means the water is gone or that there is bad fire.

To keep the woodlands healthy and feeding the sugarbag we must burn country in the right way, at the right time, keeping the flames away from high in the trees. Very hot fires in the late dry season can badly affect the flowering of the woodland species.

We have rated the health of our woodlands as ganga manymak or fair — but in fact it is going through a slow recovery from one of the strongest cyclones in recent decades.

Healthy Country Plan

We know that the land needs its people to care for it and to keep it healthy. In the same way we know that caring for the country keeps us healthy – physically, spiritually and mentally.