by Victor Steffensen
Shortlisted for the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 2021 : Nonfiction category
Delving deep into the Australian landscape and the environmental challenges we face, Fire Country is a powerful account from Indigenous land management expert Victor Steffensen on how the revival of Indigenous fire practices, including improved ’reading’ of country and undertaking ’cool burns’, could help to restore our nation.
Victor developed a passion for traditional cultural and ecological knowledge from a young age, but it was after leaving high school that Victor met two Elders who became his mentors, particularly to revive cultural burning. Developed over many generations, this knowledge shows clearly that Australia actually needs fire – with burning done in a controlled manner – for land care and healing.
Victor’s story is unassuming and honest, written in a way that reflects the nature of yarning. And while some of the knowledge shared in his book may be unclear to western world views, there is much evidence that, if adopted, it could benefit all Australians.
For every copy sold, Hardie Grant will donate $1 to Firesticks, which empowers Indigenous fire management practitioners to revive cultural burning.
About the Author
Victor Steffensen is an Indigenous writer, filmmaker, musician and consultant applying traditional knowledge values in a contemporary context, through workshops and artistic projects. He is a descendant of the Tagalaka people through his mother’s connections from the Gulf Country of north Queensland.
Much of Victor's work over the past 27 years has been based on the arts and reviving traditional knowledge values – particularly traditional burning – through mentoring and leadership, as well as on-ground training with Aboriginal communities and many non-Indigenous Australians. He is also the co-founder of the National Indigenous Fire Workshops, which have so far been hosted in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
Victor has also connected with First Nations communities in North America and the Sámi people of Scandinavia, sharing cultural knowledge practices related to caring for country. Victor is regularly interviewed by media regarding Indigenous fire management, including on The Drum, ABC News, Insight and for The Saturday Paper and Dumbo Feather magazine.
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Thank you so much Talia and the Kakadu team for making me aware of this book and making it so easy to get my copy. I love the style of writing - so direct and true. I greatly appreciate the way this book gives us the opportunity to see into and strengthen our relationship with Indigenous landcare practises and wisdom. This work is so important, the land and all its inhabitants so precious - and we are all part of it. This book should be read and discussed y every Australian school student from Primary through HIgh School. I can't thank you enough and I will happily share and support whatever initiatives I can, that arise from Victors work and from the publication of this book.