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HomeNewsIndigenous Wisdom Called In For North Head Fire Recovery

Indigenous Wisdom Called In For North Head Fire Recovery

An expert committee comprising Indigenous fire management experts and government reps, among others, has been announced in response to the recent blaze at Manly’s North Head.

The Harbour Trust today said the committee would look at ways to prevent a repeat hazard reduction burn “breach” such as that which occurred on October 17. It will also advise on recovery efforts.

The Trust said it had already partnered with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy to get recovery underway. Efforts have included fencing off the fire ground, rescuing and treating injured animals, creating artificial fauna refuges, installing nesting boxes, feral animal controls and preliminary bush regeneration works.

Harbour Trust Executive Director Mary Darwell said the expert committee would review the breach and provide guidance on how hazard reduction burns could be managed more effectively in the future.

“North Head Sanctuary is a place of rich history and diverse ecology. We hope that by convening this committee we can achieve a holistic approach to fire management at North Head Sanctuary,” she said.

“Promisingly, we are starting to see the first signs of natural bushland regeneration following the fire with the grass trees, rushes and sedges showing early signs of new growth,” Ms Darwell said.

Photo: RFS

The Harbour Trust issued a statement this afternoon to say that “once formed, the expert committee is likely to consist of First Nations fire management experts, Government representatives, environment specialists and local and skilled advisors, and will be tasked with developing prevention measures for the future.”

Closures are still in place at some parts of North Head Sanctuary. These include the Gun Emplacements, the Anzac Memorial Walk, Avenue of Honour and Hanging Swamp track. The closures will stay in place until the areas are made safe, tracks are repaired, and the regenerating bushland is sufficiently protected.


A NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS)-led hazard reduction burn broke containment lines on October 17, 2020 causing a major bushfire across Manly’s North Head. The NPWS had intended to burn about nine hectares of bushland at the headland but it spotted in several locations following strong winds, resulting in widespread fire throughout more than 50 hectares of the National Park.


While NSW NPWS is a state-run body under the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Harbour Trust is a federal agency which is a stand-alone operation that reports to the federal Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.

The Harbour Trust manages unique places such as former defence sites and places of enduring significance for First Nations Peoples, which is (we think but happy to be corrected) the more widely accepted way to refer to Australia’s Indigenous, or Aboriginal, people. (We really didn’t know which term should be used for this story so if there are any experts on the preferred term please educate us!)

… back to the story …

At North Head the Harbour Trust manages a portion of the bushland, former School of Artillery and North Fort, whereas NPWS manages some of the bushland that surrounds these areas.

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy has a partnership with the Harbour Trust at North Head Sanctuary. The Australian Wildlife Conservancy is an Australian independent, non-profit organisation, working to conserve threatened wildlife and ecosystems in Australia.


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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

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