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Ngurrara Rangers first female chopper crew care for country

Rachael Knowles -

I spy with my little eye, the nation's first all-female, all-Indigenous ranger chopper crew taking over caring for the Kimberley.

The team of three from the Ngurrara Rangers made history taking to the sky late last month.

The rangers, Raylene, Amber and Sumayah encountered windy weather which stopped their plans to complete prescribed burning.

However, the rangers were able to practice their navigation skills and incendiary machine operation.

Bubbling with excitement, Ngurrara Ranger, Raylene Lenmardi said this is her first year in the chopper.

"The first time we went up, I got a bit of motion sickness. But the second time, I had gotten used to it," Ms Lenmardi said.

The team, almost like family, work together with Traditional Owners to map cultural sites, track feral animals and fire scars.

The team inspects permits of visitors and advises tourists travelling the Canning Stock route.

Ms Lenmardi said the role they play in caring for country is incredibly significant within culture.

"It is important for the females to look after country alongside working with men. We got the knowledge from the old people and we are passing it onto the kids," Ms Lenmardi said.

"We have to come back to country. We must look after the waterhole in the desert, the old people welcome us. They know that we are there, caring. Sometimes it does get emotional, other times we feel at home and safe."

Ms Lenmardi hopes to inspire young girls within the surrounding community to pursue a career as a ranger.

"I am trying to get young girls involved, especially the ones that are having a bad time with school. A lot struggle with cyber-bullying."

"Going out to bush, it's quiet, there's no technology. It's a free space, a quiet space."

"Young women need to be involved, the importance of getting out on country is so big for them â€" to learn about their old people, to hear their ancestors and to start to connect with their country."

The Ngurrara Rangers work within the Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation, a not-for-profit organisation responsible for looking after Ngurrara Country in the Kimberley.

This project was made possible through the partnership of the Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation and 10 Deserts Project which works towards protecting Australian deserts.

By Rachael Knowles

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