The Ngadyung Program – Clean Waterways to Cultural Paths

To inspire the next generation of young Canberrans to care for their waterways through the sharing of Indigenous culture, Greening Australia has partnered with Icon Water to develop the “Ngadyung Program” (the Ngunnawal word for water) – a series of educational workshops to engage students to develop a living outdoor learning space.

By working with schools to create Ngunnawal bushtucker and medicine gardens, the program aims to raise awareness of the relationship between clean waterways and traditional cultural paths.

Canberra’s local waterways once served as important pathways for the Ngunnawal people to travel through the landscape. Today they contain some of Australia’s healthiest water supplies.

To help keep them that way, Greening Australia’s Indigenous Training and Engagement Officer, Aaron Chatfield, is teaching students, teachers and the community about simple and effective ways to help keep Canberra’s water supplies clean. This includes sharing of Indigenous culture and tools, learning about traditional bush tucker and education on how to install and maintain a bush tucker garden.

The practical workshops give students the opportunity to get their hands dirty planting a range of native bushtucker species, including Bulbine Lilies, Chocolate Lilies and Kurrajong trees. Schools are encouraged to maintain the new outdoor learning space to benefit biodiversity into the future, whilst also learning how to prepare and eat the bushtucker delicacies they have planted.

By immersing students in the creation of the new gardens and the sharing of Aboriginal culture it is hoped that the schools will benefit from healthier and more active students who care for country and become the next custodians of the land.

School pupils learning about Indigenous culture and bush tucker from Aaron Chatfield, Indigenous Training and Engagement Officer at Greening Australia.

“The program gives me the chance to pass on the knowledge of my culture to the students, which helps to keep it alive,” says Aaron Chatfield.

“The Ngadyung program benefits the community and the environment in the short and long term. By engaging students in cultural and natural resource-related activities during their primary school years, they grow up with these messages and share them at home. That can be the impetus that changes the way they and their families use and respect our natural environment into the future.”

“All of our students got so much out of learning about the plants, tasting the bush tucker and then planting the plants. As the program was so hand-on this ensured the students remained engaged and enthusiastic,” says Katrina Ireland, a teacher at a local ACT school.