Healing Country with modern gully remediation techniques and traditional custodianship

On Gaangalu Country near the small community of Woorabinda, Greening Australia and BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) worked with Traditional Owners, the Woorabinda Rangers and the community to rebuild and stabilise an eroding gully in Lily Creek.

Every year, millions of tonnes of fine sediment flow from eroding land onto the Great Barrier Reef, choking fish, seagrass and coral, and reducing the Reef’s ability to recover from the impacts of climate change.

Eroding creeks and gullies can also have a negative impact inland, reducing habitat for native animals and culturally important species, worsening the overall health of Country, and undermining infrastructure such as roads and tracks.

Image of coral and reef fish underwater

The health of the Great Barrier Reef is under threat from climate change and poor water quality.

Repairing Lily Creek was identified by the Woorabinda Project Reference Group and the Woorabinda Shire Council as a priority activity for the Queensland Indigenous Land and Conservation Project (QILCP). QILCP is an innovative five-year collaboration between Traditional Owners and First Nations Communities, Greening Australia and BMA.

The Lily Creek project included a Cultural Heritage survey of the site delivered by Gaangalu Traditional Owners; hydrological modelling to inform the design of the gully restoration; earthworks to construct water diversion banks and rock armouring; and revegetation via direct seeding to stabilise the topsoil and help reinstate the natural flow of water across the land.

An Indigenous contractor Walawaani Workforce was engaged to complete the earthworks, overseen by the engineering expertise of Neilly Group Engineering. The Woorabinda Rangers were also involved in on ground works, revegetation and monitoring. The Woorabinda Rangers continue to care for this environment. The collaboration across the project helped generate local employment and training outcomes for those involved.

aerial view of eroding creek

An aerial view of erosion at Lily Creek prior to the project.

Aaliyah Fisher and Roger Leisha, two of the Woorabinda Rangers said:

“Lily Creek was a good first experience restoring an eroded gully and working with new partners. The gully looks better from these improvements.”

Remediation, repair and protection of the environment has always been at the heart of caring for Country for Traditional Owners. Repairing Lily Creek brought together scientists, natural resource managers, engineers, the Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council and Gaangalu descendants and Traditional Owners, to improve the health of Country. The work will also have positive flow on effects over 200 kilometres away, with approximately 11 tonnes of sediment expected to be prevented from reaching the Reef each year.

An aerial view of a remediated gully

An aerial view of Lily Creek following the gully remediation works.

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