Esperance Muginga-Kaigi found her new home lacking in African fare, but not for long


The smell of simmering garlic, bay leaves, rosemary and basil have escaped through the cracks in the door, luring passers-by into the restaurant.

Vibrant table covers and curtains in red, blue and yellow enhance the warm and vibrant atmosphere inside the cafe.

But it is the woman behind the counter, in the kitchen, who is the soul of the establishment.

“I’m Esperance Muginga-Kaigi, I’m a refugee from Congo and I’m running Mama’s Caf in Ravenswood.”

“Esperance Muginga-Kaigi was born in Congo in Africa. I make smoked fish, chicken, I make fried fish, I make a lot of dishes.”

For Ms Muginga-Kaigi, the journey to the Launceston suburb of Ravenswood in northern Tasmania was not an easy one.

Before the civil war, people were happy in Congo, Ms Muginga-Kaigi says.

She was living in the Democratic Republic of Congo when war broke out.

“If you go outside … you are scared because you hear the sound of the shooting, it’s not a small shooting, but a bomb,” she said.

“You go outside, you see people die everywhere.”

With the conflict growing worse, Ms Muginga-Kaigi, said she feared for the safety of her five children.

African woman in brightly coloured dress and turban flicks through old photographs.
The Ravenswood cafe has made Ms Muginga-Kaigi a mother figure.(ABC News: April McLennan)

As a single mum, she was caring for her family while navigating the chaotic and terrifying reality of living in a war zone.

A lot of people died, including an entire family of close friends.

“They bring them and they bury them inside the compound because at that time you can’t go to the cemetery to bury someone because of the war,” she said.

“A lot of people I know, you meet in the street, they lying down and the dog [is] eating them.

“We have the saddest stories in Africa, but I have good stories in Africa too because before the war everyone was good. People were happy.”

To protect her children, Ms Muginga-Kaigi, decided to flee their home.

But as her destination remained unknown, she made the heartbreaking decision to leave her family behind until she could find a safer place for them to live.

“If something happens to me, that is OK, my kids, they survive,” she said.

Photograph of African women cooking on the street.
Ms Muginga-Kaigi learned to cook on the streets of Congo.(ABC News: April McLennan)

When the time came, Ms Muginga-Kaigi woke at midnight and, concealed by darkness, walked to the edge of a river where she clambered into a tiny rowboat.

“If they see you, they [the rebels] can shoot you.”

She was sardined next to strangers who were, like her, making the harrowing journey in search of safety.

By morning, she had reached the dry land of Brazzavillie, the country’s capital.

Here, Ms Muginga-Kaigi, went to the refugee office to try to find a safe place for her family to stay.

Six months later she was reunited with her children and together the family stayed in Brazzaville for 10 years.

When she first arrived in Tasmania everything was different — the houses looked different and it was quiet, unlike the buzzing streets of Congo.

Ms Muginga-Kaigi, said that while she was extremely happy with her new home, there was something missing.

“I was going everywhere but I didn’t see [an] African cafe, I can go to Hobart, I can go to Devonport, I can go anywhere.”

“Lot of people they have Chinese, Indian, lot of people own a cafe, but no African cafe.”

African woman in colourful turban chops up vegetables in cafe kitchen.
Ms Mujinga-Kahigi prepares traditional cuisine for her cafe in Launceston.(ABC News: April McLennan)

In that moment Ms Muginga-Kaigi, made the decision that one day she was going to run a cafe herself.

In 2018 she was given this opportunity when the pastor at her local church needed someone to take over the restaurant in Ravenswood.

And Mama’s Caf was born.

Ms Muginga-Kaigi, has now become a mother figure in Ravenswood.

“Everyone asks me, ‘Why is it called Mama’s Caf?'”

“Because everyone calls me Mama, that’s what I was in Africa, my boss was calling me Mama Esperance.”

“I come here in Australia, everyone calls me Mama. That means I have the heart of Mama for everyone.”

Tables and chairs set up with colourful African-style table clothes and wall hangings.
Mama’s Caf in the Launceston suburb of Ravenswood has given locals a taste of Africa.(ABC News: April McLennan)



Source link

Esperance filmmaker Dave Riggs shares plan for community-funded film on Bremer sub-basin


Dave Riggs had a feeling something extraordinary was about to happen when he looked to the ocean and saw about 2,000 dolphins swimming for their lives.

Pods of killer whales followed, brushing the smaller mammals out of the way as they passed.

The Esperance filmmaker watched on with a boatload of tourists visiting the Bremer sub-basin, about 70 kilometres off Western Australia’s south coast.

The boat gave chase for an hour and a half, until arriving at a scene Mr Riggs will never forget.

About 60 killer whales had cornered a blue whale, the world’s largest animal, and were “slowly skinning it” to death.

The seasoned filmmaker described the display as “brutal” and “frightening to watch”, while the delegates from an international tourism symposium on board were horrified.

It is also far from the only surreal experience Mr Riggs said he had racked up in 15 years working around the Bremer sub-basin.

He said he had seen killer whales swimming around the boat displaying the head of beaked whales in their jaws “like a trophy”.

And, he said, he had seen 60-tonne sperm whales surface with a giant squids in their mouths.

Recently, Mr Riggs said he had also discovered a whale graveyard in Australian waters.

But much of what he had captured on film was owned by overseas broadcasters.

By creating a movie of his own, he said he hoped to ensure the local community got to see it too.

Esperance filmmaker Dave Riggs plans to build a ‘tractor-cam’ in his back shed to livestream the deep ocean.(ABC Esperance: Emily Smith)

Testing a theory

Mr Riggs said he recently convinced a team from the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s Falkor expedition — which travels the world researching coral and is funded by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt — to test a long-held suspicion.

For the past six years Mr Riggs has filmed wildlife for broadcasters across the world from a tour boat that visits the Bremer sub-basin in pursuit of orcas between January and April.

In that time, he and the tour operators noticed the killer whales were predating heavily on beaked whales, which he said resembled “a really big dolphin”.

He guessed they would be killing between 70 and 80 of these beaked whales a season and suspected that may have created a whale graveyard — known as a whale fall — on the ocean floor.

After travelling to Albany to tell the visiting Falkor scientists about his theory, they agreed to investigate — and found he was spot on.

An orca breaches in the ocean.
Dave Riggs’ movie would centre on the Bremer Bay sub-basin off Western Australia.(Supplied: Naturaliste Charters)

“They found the boneyard. The first ever definite whale fall location with evidence of chemosynthetic activity happening,” Mr Riggs said.

“[That means] all the different things that are coming out of the decaying animal matter create an ecosystem of their own.

But in making that discovery they also introduced Mr Riggs to their live streaming equipment — a $10 million remotely operated underwater vehicle that could broadcast anywhere in the world from 3.5km underwater.

That planted a seed of an idea in Mr Riggs’ mind — could he set up a livestreamed feed too?

And could he use that feed to raise funds for a movie?

A whale-watching boat in the ocean, with a coastline in view.
Mr Riggs hopes a pay-per-view, livestreamed feed will help promote tourism in the area.(Supplied: Naturaliste Charters)

The ‘tractor-cam’

Mr Riggs decided it could be done by drawing on a range of techniques used by other filmmakers.

While the remotely operated vehicle used by the Falkor scientists was state-of-the-art, he said it was noisy, which could scare animals away.

Recently, he made another film with NHK — a Japanese broadcasting company — and was able to capture 4-metre swordfish and a 16m giant squid by using a camera that operated almost silently.

The tractor-cam would combine the bottom end of a small excavator with a camera system.

It would run on electricity and feed video to the surface via a fibre-optic cable.

The vision captured would be broadcast on a website that subscribers could view for a fee, something in the order of $50 for three months.

Dave Riggs works at his computer, a picture of a breaching orca hangs behind him
Dave Riggs has captured incredible images over 15 years but says much of it belongs to overseas TV companies.(ABC Esperance: Emily Smith)

Through this model, Mr Riggs hoped to eventually raise enough money to tell the story of the Bremer sub-basin — on his own terms.

“I’ve had enough experience in making films now to know that you can get compromised by broadcasters,” he said.

But he also believed the community should have some level of ownership over the story, given how ecologically significant and special the place was.

A fragile industry

The other advantage of a pay-to-view, livestreamed feed is that it would help tour operators diversify their business.

Like so many other things, they had been hard-hit by COVID-19.

He stands in his backyard by his shed
Dave Riggs says the coronavirus shutdown was “a real wake-up call for us in how fragile this whole industry is”.(ABC Esperance: Emily Smith)

“Obviously there was a complete exodus of passengers and people wanting to come out or even able to come out,” Mr Riggs said.

While he expected domestic tourism to bounce back this summer, he hoped the footage would help a wider base of people form a connection and start to care about the area.

“It’s just another layer of trying to protect ecosystems like this, which are, I think, so important in this day and age,” he said.

Watch this story on ABC TV’s Landline this Sunday at 12:30pm or on iview.



Source link

Search suspended after shark attacks Esperance man Andrew Sharpe


A surfer killed by a shark off Western Australia’s south coast “loved the ocean immensely” and often discussed its risks with his family.

The search for 52-year-old Andrew Sharpe was suspended at 12:30pm today, the third day of the operation at Wylie Bay, near Esperance.

The decision to suspend the search was made with the blessing of Mr Sharpe’s family, which has released a statement thanking first responders, emergency services, police, volunteers and search teams.

“Andrew was a very loving father, life partner and brother,” Mr Sharpe’s family said.

“He would do anything for anyone and was a great and loyal mate to his friends and people he met.

“He knew the risks and we knew the risks as well.

“They had been discussed often. He will be greatly missed by us all.

“Our family would like to thank everyone who was with him on Friday and the Esperance community for their support.

“We live in an amazing town.

“We would also like to thank all the first responders, emergency services, police, volunteers and search teams.”

Police said the size of the swell made it too dangerous to continue the search on Sunday morning.(ABC News: Mark Bennett)

WA Police Senior Sergeant Justin Tarasinski praised the Sharpe family for the way they had handled the news of the suspension.

“It’s never easy to sit down with the family and tell them that you’re suspending the search,” he said.

“What I will say is that Mr Sharpe’s family have been absolutely fantastic in the way that they’re handling that side of things.

Mr Tarasinski said the 2.5m swell made search efforts too dangerous to continue. The police dive team was returning to Perth.

Ocean Safety and Support Group founder Mitch Capelli said the community wanted to see lethal drumlines used following a deadly shark attack, and he said his group would put that request to the Minister.

“We’d love to see some action. At the moment, nothing’s been done,” Mr Capelli said.

“There should have been a lethal drumline deployed instantly after that attack.

“We are losing family, we’re losing friends and we’re losing others who are coming into our town who want to enjoy it. And that does not sit well with me or most people I know.”

WA Premier Mark McGowan suggested he would discuss whether the community wanted a shark net installed to protect swimmers, noting one would not have saved Mr Sharpe.

Mr McGowan also flagged a discussion about further shark tagging measures.



Source link

Hope lost for finding shark attack victim Andrew Sharpe alive off Esperance on Western Australia’s south coast


WA police say they have lost all hope of finding much-loved surfer Andrew Sharpe alive after he was attacked by a shark on Friday morning at a surf break near Esperance on Western Australia’s south coast.

“We don’t hold any ongoing hope unfortunately for Mr Sharpe’s survival,” Senior Sergeant Justin Tarasinski said.

After a second day of searching, authorities have recovered two pieces of wetsuit, believed to be that of Mr Sharpe’s, in the ocean near where he was surfing, but police said it would have to be tested for DNA.

On Friday, a piece of his surfboard was also washed ashore with “obvious signs of shark attack”.

The prominent local man was attacked while surfing at Wylie Bay’s popular Kelp Beds break around 11:00am on Friday.

Up to eight surfers were in the water at the time and witnessed the attack, along with bystanders on the beach.

Search will continue for third day

Emergency services including four police divers searched the water, near where Mr Sharpe was attacked, all day Saturday, only wrapping up their efforts because of bad weather about 2:00pm.

Police said they would recommence their search efforts at first light Sunday morning.

“We’ll continue on for as long as we possibly can … and that’s about trying to bring some closure to Mr Sharpe’s family,” Sergeant Tarasinski said.

Wylie Bay beach remains closed following the attack.(ABC NEws: Emily Smith)

Sergeant Tarasinski said given divers were searching in the middle of a surf break, it was not possible for them to use a shark cage, which brought about an element of risk.

A range of other local and state government authorities have assisted with the search, including the Southern Ports Authority, Department of Parks and Wildlife and the Esperance Shire.

Police said even locals had taken their recreational vessels out to sea to help with the search efforts.

Wylie Bay beach remains closed.

‘Our hearts go out to them’

Sergeant Tarasinski said Mr Sharpe was a “well-regarded and much-loved” Esperance local and his assumed death had devastated the coastal town’s tight-knit community.

Local vet and Esperance Ocean Safety Group committee member David Swan offered his condolences to the man’s family.

“The community’s very sad and rallying around the family,” Dr Swan said.

“Our hearts go out to them and to all their friends and colleagues.

“A big shout out to all the first responders who are out there trying to help and just sincere apologies and condolences to the family.”

A man wearing a white polo t-shirt and cap stands next to a boat.
David Swan has urged the Premier to visit Esperance in the wake of the attack.(ABC News: Mark Bennett)

Dr Swan said he wanted West Australian Premier Mark McGowan to visit the town.

“I strongly invite Premier Mark McGowan to come down and have a meeting with us,” he said.

“We’ve got some mitigation strategies unique to Esperance that are absolutely achievable, we’ve got the support of the entire community here.

“We want the local fisheries to be authorised to do immediate lethal drumlining in the event of an attack.

“We’ve [also] got an imminent threat policy, so if a shark is hanging around the populated beaches in the bay here or West Beach or Kelp Beds, that smart drumlining can occur.”

Esperance Shire President Ian Mickel backed Dr Swan’s call for a meeting with the Premier.

“We have a number of people in this community who have got a lot of skills and information in regards to sharks, they’re people that make their living from the sea, they can tell their part of the story,” he said.

“I think the Premier needs to hear that.”

In a statement, Mr McGowan offered his condolences to Mr Sharpe’s family.

“My deepest sympathy goes out to the family and friends of Mr Sharpe, and all those people responding to this tragic news,” he said.

“All efforts are now in place to recover his body.

“This is the first and foremost priority.

“I’d like to once again thank all the first responders and all the emergency, support and volunteer personnel that are currently assisting with recovery efforts.

“We are all thinking of you and the Esperance community during this time.”

WA Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley will visit Esperance on Sunday.

Authorities have promised to resume the search for Mr Sharpe on Sunday.

Community reeling after another attack

In the past decade, there have been fatal shark attacks in the area, and around the Esperance coast more broadly.

A search boat and a jetski resume a search for a missing man, with sand dunes in the background.
Police divers have joined the search for the missing surfer.(ABC News: Mark Bennett)

In 2014, 23-year-old surfer Sean Pollard was attacked by a shark at the beach, losing his arm and other hand.

Three years later, 17-year-old Laeticia Brouwer died after being bitten by a white shark in the same area.

A Facebook post which reads 'thinking of you all as a community today ... we feel your pain'.
A Facebook post by Laeticia Brouwer’s parents in the wake of the shark attack.(Supplied)

Diver Gary Johnson was killed at Cull Island, off the Esperance coast, in January this year.



Source link

WA shark attack search continues for Esperance surfer Andrew Sharpe


Two pieces of wetsuit have been found in the search for a surfer missing off the coast of Western Australia after a shark attack.

As every hour passes – hopes of finding Esperance father Andrew Sharpe are fading as the rescue mission turns into a recovery operation.

The 52-year-old was surfing with seven friends at Kelp Beds yesterday morning when he fell prey to what witnesses have described as a four-metre monster.

Pieces of wetsuit were recovered in the search for missing WA surfer Andrew Sharpe today. (9News)

“We know the deal when we go surfing, it is what it is, but you hope it never happens to you or anyone that you know,” Mr Sharpe’s friend Scott Docherty told 9News.

Yesterday, witnesses say Mr Sharpe was bitten on the leg and knocked off his board as distressed onlookers watched from shore.

When Mr Sharpe’s friends paddled over to help him, that’s when they say the shark came back and pulled him under.

Esperance shark attack
Mr Sharpe’s friend, Scott Docherty said surfers know the risks when they go out, but hope it never happens to someone they know. (9News)

His surfboard floated back to shore hours later, with bite marks on it suggesting Mr Sharpe may not be found at all.

As search efforts continued today, crews located pieces of what they believe to be Mr Sharpe’s wetsuit.

“The chances of survival are obviously pretty slim considering some of the accounts that have been provided to us,” a WA Police spokesman told 9News yesterday.

Esperance shark attack
Crews will resume searching for Mr Sharpe tomorrow, despite risk of the shark still being in nearby waters. (9News)

There have been at least five shark attacks off Esperance – two deadly.

Diver Gary Johnson was taken by a great white in January and three years ago teen Laeticia Brouwer was killed at the same surf break at the centre of today’s search.

The search for Mr Sharpe will continue tomorrow morning when daylight returns.



Source link

Search for shark attack victim resumes off Esperance on Western Australia’s south coast


The search for a man who was attacked by a shark at a surf break near Esperance on Western Australia’s south coast yesterday morning has resumed.

The local man was attacked while surfing at Wylie Bay’s popular Kelp Beds break around 11:00am on Friday.

Up to eight surfers were in the water at the time and witnessed the attack, along with bystanders on the beach.

No sign of the man’s body has been found, but his surfboard was discovered washed up with signs of shark damage.

On Friday, police said the man’s chances of survival were slim.

Wylie Bay beach remains closed following the attack.(ABC NEws: Emily Smith)

Police divers from Perth have joined the search, assisted by Surf Life Saving WA.

A range of other local and state government authorities are assisting, including the Southern Ports Authority, Department of Parks and Wildlife and the Esperance Shire.

Wylie Bay beach remains closed.

Community reeling after another attack

In the past decade, there have been fatal shark attacks in the area, and around the Esperance coast more broadly.

A search boat and a jetski resume a search for a missing man, with sand dunes in the background.
Police divers have joined the search for the missing surfer.(ABC News: Mark Bennett)

In 2014, 23-year-old surfer Sean Pollard was attacked by a shark at the beach, losing his arm and other hand.

Three years later, 17-year-old Laeticia Brouwer died after being bitten by a white shark in the same area.

A Facebook post which reads 'thinking of you all as a community today ... we feel your pain'.
A Facebook post by Laeticia Brouwer’s parents in the wake of the shark attack.(Supplied)

Diver Gary Johnson was killed at Cull Island, off the Esperance coast, in January this year.

Police said the man who was attacked yesterday was a “prominent” local.

‘Our hearts go out to them’

Despite no official confirmation the surfer had died, local vet and Esperance Ocean Safety Group committee member David Swan offered his condolences to the man’s family.

“The community’s very sad and rallying around the family,” Dr Swan said.

“A big shout out to all the first responders who are out there trying to help and just sincere apologies and condolences to the family.”

A man wearing a white polo t-shirt and cap stands next to a boat.
David Swan has urged the Premier to visit Esperance in the wake of the attack.(ABC News: Mark Bennett)

Dr Swan said he wanted the West Australian Premier Mark McGowan to visit the town.

“I strongly invite Premier Mark McGowan to come down and have a meeting with us,” he said.

“We want the local fisheries to be authorised to do immediate lethal drumlining in the event of an attack.

“We’ve [also] got an imminent threat policy, so if a shark is hanging around the populated beaches in the bay here or West Beach or Kelp Beds, that smart drumlining can occur.”



Source link

Shark attack at Wylie Bay, Esperance, on WA’s south coast where surfer is missing


Police have suspended a search for a man who was attacked by a shark while surfing at Kelp Beds surf break in Wylie Bay, near Esperance, on Western Australia’s south coast, but plan to resume it at first light on Saturday.

WA Police said a surf board with “obvious signs of shark attack” had washed up near where the incident occurred, but the man had not been found.

“The chances of survival are obviously pretty slim considering some of the accounts that have been provided to us,” Senior Sergeant Justin Tarasinki said.

The search operation to look for the man was suspended late Friday afternoon, and authorities said it would recommence at first light Saturday morning.

The search and rescue mission has been underway since a witness reported the attack to emergency services just before 11:00am.

Loading

St John Ambulance was part of the initial operation but was stood down about 2:00pm.

The attack followed a shark sighting about 10:45am, but the report did not specify which species of shark was spotted.

Senior Sergeant Tarasinki said at the time of the attack, between six and eight surfers were in the water with more witnesses on the beach.

‘Very difficult situation’: WA Premier

Speaking at a press conference on Friday afternoon, WA Premier Mark McGowan said the missing man was in the water with other surfers.

Loading

Video posted from the area shows surf life savers and a jet ski heading towards the beach.

Wylie Bay beach has since been closed.

Authorities have warned people to take extra care around the area and to stay informed via the SharkSmart website.

The surf spot is notorious for shark attacks.

It is the same area where 17-year-old Laeticia Brouwer died after being bitten by a white shark in 2017.

In 2014, 23-year-old surfer Sean Pollard was also attacked by a shark at the beach, losing his arm and other hand.

While in January of this year, diver Gary Johnson was killed at Cull Island off the Esperance coast.

‘Prominent’ local man, Esperance officer says

Senior Sergeant Tarasinki would not reveal the name of the missing surfer while family were still being notified, but said the man was a “prominent” local who was well known in the town.

He said the family was devastated by the attack and police were working hard to bring them some sort of closure.

Senior Sergeant Tarasinki said it would be difficult for the community to take on another tragedy.

Emotional scenes at Kelp Beds surf break

ABC journalist Emily Smith was at the scene for several hours and said while her vision was limited because the beach had been closed, she could see surf lifesaving jet skis in the water.

She said Kelp Beds, known as “Kelpies”, is a popular surf break and can only be accessed by car from one entry point.

A ranger van was parked near Wylie Bay, Esperance, where the suspected shark attack was reported.(ABC News: Emily Smith)

“All the surfers just drive up and park their cars in a long line and it looks like there’s still about 10 cars out there,” Ms Smith said.

“People have begun arriving at the beach after hearing about the possible shark attack, worried about if their loved one is a victim.

“At least one person is in tears.

“It’s just so terrible for this community, everyone’s quite on edge about shark attacks all the time.

“Everyone knows a surfer in town so it’s really horrible right now.”

Shire of Esperance president Ian Mickel said both he and the wider community were devastated by the attack.

“I think most people are really feeling very sad and extremely disappointed that we’ve had another shark attack in that area,” he said.

A sign reading  Road Closed Ahead on a gravel road amid scrubland.
The beach at Wylie Bay in Esperance has been closed.(ABC NEws: Emily Smith)



Source link

Shark attack suspected at Wylie Bay, Esperance, on WA’s south coast where surfer is missing


A possible shark attack has been reported at Kelp Beds Beach in Wylie Bay, near Esperance, on Western Australia’s south coast, where an adult male surfer is missing.

Police said a surf board had been found floating in the water but the surfer had not been found.

Emergency authorities are at the scene including Esperance Police, St John Ambulance, Marine Rescue and Surf Life Saving WA.

A witness reported a potential shark attack just before 11:00am.

It followed a shark sighting about 9:20am, but the report did not specify which species of shark was spotted.

Loading

Police said the search and rescue operation was “ongoing.”

Video posted from the area shows surf life savers and a jet ski heading towards the beach.

Kelp Beds Beach, also known as “Kelpies”, has since been closed.

Authorities have warned people to take extra care around the area and to stay informed via the SharkSmart website.

The surf spot is notorious for shark attacks.

It is the same area where 17-year-old Laeticia Brouwer died after being bitten by a white shark in 2017.

In 2014, 23-year-old surfer Sean Pollard was also attacked by a shark at the beach, losing his arm and other hand.

Emotional scenes at Kelp Beds Beach

ABC Journalist Emily Smith is at the scene and said while her vision was limited because the beach had been closed, she could see surf lifesaving jet skis in the water.

Kelp Beds is a popular surf break and can only be accessed by car from one entry point.

A ranger van was parked near Wylie Bay, Esperance, where the suspected shark attack was reported.(ABC News: Emily Smith)

“All the surfers just drive up and park their cars in a long line and it looks like there’s still about 10 cars out there,” Ms Smith said.

“People have begun arriving at the beach after hearing about the possible shark attack, worried about if their loved one is a victim.

“At least one person is in tears.

“It’s just so terrible for this community, everyone’s quite on edge about shark attacks all the time.

“Everyone knows a surfer in town so it’s really horrible right now.”

A sign reading  Road Closed Ahead on a gravel road amid scrubland.
The beach at Wylie Bay in Esperance has been closed.(ABC NEws: Emily Smith)



Source link

Esperance to celebrate Indigenous round in local Australian Rules competition


David Riley will take centre stage during a celebration of Aboriginal culture in his hometown on Friday night, just as he did on Sunday in front of almost 30,000 people.

The year 9 Esperance student played the didgeridoo with his uncle, Andrew Beck, at Perth Stadium during the West Coast Eagles match last weekend, as part of the AFL’s Indigenous round.

That celebration will hit a grassroots level this week, with Esperance set to host an Indigenous round of the local football competition — to the delight of many young players.

“My favourite round is the Indigenous round because of the shirts — the way it’s designed,” Ngadju girl and local footy player Moniquah Graham said.

“And [because] I am Aboriginal.”

Anna Bonney, who manages the Girls Academy program for Indigenous students at Esperance Senior High School and coaches a local football team, thinks the celebration could have far-reaching impacts — from helping young people connect with their culture to bringing wider issues into the spotlight.

Among those broader issues is racism, which Ms Bonney says every Aboriginal person she has ever met in Esperance has been the target of at one time or another.  

“Everybody experiences it in one way or another.

“It does impact. And it does affect.”

Aboriginal culture was on proud display during Dreamtime in Darwin this year.(ABC Darwin)

But following last weekend’s Indigenous AFL round, Ms Bonney had seen the wider community shift its perspective on issues affecting Aboriginal people.   

She pointed to ‘Free the Flag’ — a campaign to free the Aboriginal flag from copyright and licensing restrictions — and the mainstream coverage it received through the AFL as an example.  

“There was a lot of marketing and media around ‘Free the Flag’,” she said.

“Now this campaign has been going on for over a year and a lot of Aboriginal people have been aware of that.

“But after this weekend — I can’t count the amount of people who came up and said: ‘What’s going on with this Free the Flag?’

“So the power of AFL just this weekend has shown there’s now so many more people having these conversations, and wanting to know more.

“So I’m hopeful from that there will be changes.”

‘I just try and be like him’

Young Aboriginal Esperance players Kieren Douglas, David Riley, and Moniquah Graham all quickly rattled off their favourite Aboriginal AFL players — who were Michael Walters, Cyril Rioli and Liam Ryan respectively — and said watching and playing football was a big part of their lives.

“My dream when it comes to football is to be the best I can be and help my teammates achieve more,” Kieren said.

Adam Goodes calls for the ball against North Melbourne
Former Sydney Swans player Adam Goodes was the subject of two documentaries recently.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

Kieren and David also said they studied The Final Quarter at school, a documentary about Adam Goodes — former Sydney Swans player, dual Brownlow medallist and Australian of the Year who was subjected to racist booing.

“I felt pretty sad about how people called him names and almost made him quit AFL,” Kieran said.

“I just try and be like him,” David said.

Didgeridoo player Andrew Beck has just moved back to Esperance after 14 years away.

He believed it was important this cultural aspect was included in the celebration, and hoped it would prove a learning opportunity for the whole community.

“[I hope people] just see how Aboriginal people are, the true essence of Aboriginal people. Our core values, our family values are strong: family, kinship and culture.

“[I’m hoping] for people to embrace it and enjoy it, this is Australia, this is who we are and if we’re in this together and we walk the same path together, we’ll become a stronger Australia.”

Walking Together is taking a look at our nation’s reconciliation journey and where we’ve been and asks the question — where do we go next?

Join us as we listen, learn and share stories from across the country that unpack the truth-telling of our history and embrace the rich culture and language of Australia’s First People.



Source link

Esperance kookaburra sighting raises questions about native wildlife management


The nation’s largest bird organisation has logged its first ever record of a kookaburra in the West Australian south coast town of Esperance.

But given it is the “king of the bush”, one expert has suggested a kookaburra cull could be an idea worth exploring.

Sean Dooley, the national public affairs manager for BirdLife Australia, said kookaburras were introduced to WA from the east coast back in 1896 and records show they had reached Albany by the 1960s.

But BirdLife had no record of a kookaburra ever being in Esperance before, until local resident Barbara Jones took a drive with her husband this week.

“Out the corner of my eye I saw a bird and I thought, ‘That’s a kookaburra!'” she told the ABC.

“[But my husband’s] comment to me was, ‘Well, in the 22 years that I’ve been here I’ve never seen a kookaburra.'”

But he soon changed his mind after they pulled over in the industrial outskirts of the town and Ms Jones snapped a photograph.

Barbara Jones took this photo of a kookaburra on Sheldon Road in Esperance.(Supplied: Barbara Jones)

‘A really devastating impact’

Mr Dooley checked other records and did find mention of an Esperance kookaburra on a website called ebird that dated back to 2018.

But he said they must have only started arriving in Esperance very recently — and that could be a cause for concern for some species native to the area.

“They sit on the top of the food chain essentially,” Mr Dooley said.

“Especially when it comes to their prey, which is things like lots of reptiles, particularly lizards, but famously also snakes, but they also pose quite a threat to lots of smaller birds.

He said climate change was making the impact of kookaburras particularly pronounced in Tasmania, where kookaburras were also introduced at the turn of last century.

“The forests in Tasmania are drying out and becoming a bit more open,” Mr Dooley said.

“It’s perfect habitat for kookaburras and their numbers are booming.

“The same thing’s happening, perhaps to a lesser degree, in the south-west of Western Australia.”

A kookaburra with a smaller bird in its beak.
A Tasmanian kookaburra with a smaller bird in its beak.(Supplied: Greg Close)

A kookaburra cull?

He said these problems raised an interesting question about whether kookaburras should be managed through a cull.

While he thought it was probably too late for this to be effective in the south-west of the state, he said a case could potentially be made for culling kookaburras in places they were only just moving into like Esperance, particularly given its proximity to the ecologically significant Great Western Woodlands, 200 kilometres to the north.

“There may be an argument that says, ‘Maybe we need to draw a line and start seeing if we can remove those kookaburras on the frontline and try and push their spread back,'” Mr Dooley said.

Culling native birds is not entirely unprecedented in WA.

Mr Dooley said corellas were culled around Perth.

A flock of corellas flying with blue sky behind.
BirdLife Australia’s Sean Dooley said corellas had been culled in Western Australia.(ABC Mid West & Wheatbelt: Joanna Prendergast)

He also said rainbow lorikeets, which were “presumably introduced from escapee birds in the 1960s and 1970s”, had proliferated to such an extent around Perth that there were some calls for culls.

“They’re expanding and taking over the nesting hollows of some of the local parrots like the 28 parrot, and potentially things like the western rosella and other things,” he said.

Mr Dooley said while there was a big push for culling kookaburras around Tasmania, he was not aware of any programs designed to eliminate them.

The WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions has been contacted for comment.

‘Lots of people love them’

Ken Mills, a botanist who has lived in Esperance for 18 years and “was born with an interest in birds”, pointed out there were other predatory birds around Esperance.

“Magpies and butcher birds and a lot of the small hawks and things do the same thing,” he said.

“So I think it’s more a case of that [kookaburras] will compete with those birds for the existing resource, and there might be a slight adjustment of the populations among the various predators.”

Mr Mills said it was not unusual for birds to expand their range and assimilate into the local environment.

“[Kookaburras] do seem to have struck some sort of balance in the south-west,” he said.

“I don’t particularly welcome them, but I’m not particularly worried about them either.”

He said he would be much more concerned if rainbow lorikeets started to show up, because they could build up such big numbers.

A flock of lorikeets.
Rainbow lorikeets have proliferated around Perth and are causing problems.(ABC Open contributor Janos Fromm)

He said only time would tell as to whether kookaburras would establish populations in Esperance, which depended on whether they found places to breed.

But if they did, he said it would no doubt make some people very happy.

“Lots of people love them,” he said

Mr Mills has not seen a kookaburra in Esperance yet, but given he was more of a waterbird enthusiast, that did not concern him the slightest.

“We have a bit of a saying in that community,” he said.



Source link