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First Nations rangers use fire to care for Country in Victoria

Eelemarni Close-Brown -

Native wildflowers are growing where there was once only dead grass. Thanks to the work of an Aboriginal ranger group, parts of one of Australia's biggest cities are once again flourishing.

Sean Hunter leads the Wurundjeri Narrup Rangers Unit in Melbourne, which cares for country from Mount Baw-Baw to the Werribee River.

The unit was established by the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation to provide a holistic approach to working on country.

"We are looking after country and restoring the ecosystem back to where it should be, which is hard already given the population size of Melbourne," Mr Hunter told AAP.

The unit specialises in cultural burns, weed management, revegetation, and tending to properties owned by the Wurundjeri Council.

"We burn different areas for many reasons and that can be to regenerate native bush, native medicine plants or food plants," Mr Hunter said.

"It just depends on what's in the area and why we're burning it."

In February, Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Narrap rangers utilised cultural burning practices to manage weeds and regenerate native plant species at Mount Wil-im-ee (Mount William).

When translated in the Woi Worrung language, Wil-im-ee Mooring means 'home of many axes', and the site is of cultural significance to the Wurundjeri people.

The Mount William quarry is where their ancestors quarried greenstone from outcrops to make their axes, which were also traded for possum skins and other valuable resources.

"It was completely covered in all the dead grass that had hatched on the ground and the wildflowers and medicine plants weren't growing anymore," Mr Hunter said.

"I revisited recently and now the whole place is covered in lilies, orchids and a lot of rare grass species."

The team also collaborates with Landcare and other agencies.

"To protect and enhance our country, we will never get it back to the way it was before colonisation," Mr Hunter said.

"Yet together, we can make an impact, create a better future and learn from each other."

Eelemarni Close-Brown - AAP

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