Djenj Project: Bininj Fishing Past, Present and Future

We are excited to announce a new community-based project, The Djenj Project: Bininj Fishing Past, Present and Future, funded through the Kakadu West Arnhem Social Trust.

The project will be conducted through 2019 and will be based on two-way knowledge sharing and learning about fish and fishing in west Arnhem Land. 

It will involve Bininj (Aboriginal) rangers, Elders, school children and other community members working in partnership with Balanda (non-Aboriginal) researchers, teachers, a videographer and curriculum developers. It aims to: teach Bininj children and rangers about Western fish and water research techniques to improve employment opportunities; provide occasions for senior Bininj people to share traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) with Bininj children and researchers; and for everyone to work together to prepare teaching resources so the project has long lasting benefits.

Project Significance

The cultural, social, environmental, spiritual, and economic connection of Bininj people to water sources, and especially fish, is extremely significant. Water sources have always been important meeting places for Bininj families, not only to fish and learn about traditional practices, but also to engage in ceremony. The health of these water sources and fish is directly linked to the contemporary health and well-being of people. This project reinforces the rights of Bininj to engage in all aspects of water and fish management processes.

Ongoing environmental management processes associated with uranium mining and the Kakadu National Park offers employment opportunities for Bininj to be involved in long-term environmental monitoring. Developing an understanding of water quality and monitoring through a project focused on fish is an important skill for community members to have. By involving school-aged children in this project, a foundation for future skills and environmental awareness will be laid. 

The information that will be collected during this project will be of extremely high significance in providing a snapshot of the native fish species of the region. The reference collections of fish skeletons and otoliths (ear bones) will be compared with ancient fish remains from the 65,000-year-old Madjedbebe site, to investigate how fish species and water quality in the region have changed over time. 


This project will include about 80 Bininjmen, women, children and adults from the Djurrubu rangers, Mirarr community, and the Njanjma Rangers and affiliated clans, and will be an opportunity for bringing together Bininj and Western knowledge and allowing inter-generational knowledge transfer. Any Bininj who want to participate will have the opportunity to do so.

The project will be overseen by GAC Cultural Heritage Advisor, Dr Lynley Wallis, and coordinated by archaeological fish otolith expert, Dr Morgan Disspain, with the support of Dr Tristen Jones. It has been developed through discussions with Djurrubu rangers, Njanjma rangers, the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, the Njanjma Aboriginal Corporation, staff from Gunbalanya School, Jabiru Area School and Djidbidjidbi College, ERA staff, and ERISS staff.

For more information about the project, please contact Kirsten Blair ( or Shay Wrigglesworth (