Sharing culture and country: Kakadu's Seasonal Ranger Program
Our seasonal ranger-guided activities have wrapped up for the year, and for those who haven’t caught a Mamukala or Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) tour, we’re introducing you to Oscar Cooper, who’s just completed his first year as a seasonal ranger at Kakadu.
Oscar’s Indigenous name is Yalimbard and his tribe is Iwaidja, which is also the language that his family speaks. He’s a future traditional owner of the area that covers Mamukala and Munmalarri outstation, as well as Gardangal (Field Island). His connection to this country is through his grandmother, and his father Samuel Cooper who is her eldest son.
Although he grew up in Victoria, he has a strong connection to Kakadu – his father Samuel worked for the park as a day labourer. His father’s strong speaking skills inspired Oscar to become a seasonal ranger and work at Kakadu – he’s wanted to be a ranger ever since he was a kid.
Oscar and his father are both passionate about sharing their culture with others and telling the stories that aren’t taught in schools. He wanted to become a better and more confident speaker, and he’s coming out the other side of the Seasonal Ranger Program having really grown in confidence and he has been an excellent guide for many visitors to the park.
His favourite part about the Seasonal Ranger Program is sharing his culture and getting to meet people from all over the country (and hopefully the world in future). Oscar is modest, but his favourite experience with visitors in the program was when a group of people said that they’d travelled all through the NT and he was the best guide they’d had!
Oscar was a guide for the Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) rock art tour and Mamukala Wetlands walk. He loves talking about everything to do with the floodplain: mirrnayaj (crocodile) safety, totems, and hunting and survival.
Speaking of totems, Oscar’s is gumbaluk (crow), and his father’s is injini (kite). Gumbaluk and injini are often seen hunting together like a father and son, and these totems are passed down through the generations of his family, with each gumbaluk father having an injini son, and vice versa.
His favourite animal in the park is lumbun (death adder) because it’s dangerous, venomous, excellent at hiding and a great hunter. His favourite plant is ironwood because it’s the best wood to use for tools. He is a carver, making lama (spears), arrilil (clapsticks) and artawirr (didgeridoos) which his father paints.
Oscar is proud to be part of the first exclusively Bininj seasonal ranger cohort. He thinks it’s a great opportunity for visitors to have an authentic experience of the park, with information straight from the source.
As well as being a seasonal ranger, Oscar also works behind the desk at the Bowali Visitor Centre. Make sure you say hi if you see him there!
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