Canberra to Cape Bedford: using historical photo archives for better land management

Friday, 3 June 2016
Harold Ludwick

The Hope Vale Congress of Clans rangers have taken an ‘out of the box’ approach to material that is being returned to the remote Aboriginal community of Hope Vale. Through AIATSIS’ Return of Material to Indigenous Communities (ROMTIC) program the photographic collection deposited by John B Haviland has become available to the rangers to use as a tool to care for and preserve their environment, and culture.  HAVILAND.J01.BW offers a rare glimpse into the life of the Bama who lived at the Cape Bedford mission on the east coast of Cape York. For the rangers it provides an important insight into the bubu—country—shown in the photographs and provides connections to their language, land and ancestors. Through discussion of the work of the rangers program, the importance of understanding the changes to the landscape can be seen. The images provide the Hope Vale rangers a greater understanding of the historical landscape and equip them with tools to conserve the environment in the present. Through this work the rangers are able to preserve and grow traditional knowledge in the community of Hope Vale.