Out On Country With... Clive Nunggarrgalu

Published: 27 Mar 2024

Clive Nunggarrgalu, Numburindi Senior Ranger (SE Arnhem Land). Photo: Sam Frederick.


In the first of our new regular series 'On Country With', meet Senior Ranger Clive Nunggarrgalu.


"I'm a senior ranger from Numburindi Rangers (South East Arnhem Land), and have been working for a ranger for almost nine years.


Taking Care of Country

My role is to take care of my Country. I'm really proud of my ranger job. I understand the law, the culture, and the sacred site area.

This IPA (Indigenous Protected Area) protect the land, it protect everything that we own here today. Every corner of the Country they've got a name.

Seagrass stretching across SE Arnhem Land IPA. Photo: Courtesy Northern Land Council.

We learn from Ngukurr mob and Ngukurr mob learn from us. We share the job. We got eyes and ears to look after the Country.

Country’s very important to us. (It tells me) I’m burning fire right time. When the rain come, brings the animal back to the Country. Very important animal for us is goanna, kangaroos and especially goose, duck, emu. Makes me proud when I can listen all the birds singing out. You can listen to your totem too.


Keeping Culture Strong

We've got a strong culture, so IPA is really good for us, it protect our culture and everything here that we’ve got. Everything here today we got a songline - on the mainland and in the sea. I'm really, really proud taking care of my Country, stay strong, and keep our culture strong.

Location of SE Arnhem Land Indigenous Protected Area. Map: Country Needs People.


Sea Country Indigenous Protected Area

The Sea Country IPA (Indigenous Protected Area) is coming up now. Sea Country is very important in our way, it’s a songline. We got different clan they own the Sea Country. 

I'm a sea man, I love living on the sea. We connect and we get together, we sing about the songline.

Sea Country on SE Arnhem Land. Photo: Sam Frederick.

Some of the threats to Sea Country are keeping it safe - protect the dugong, dolphin, turtle, seaweed, and the little crab. It’s important to clean up the ghost nets floating in the water. When we get this Sea IPA we're going to protect the seaside, picking up all of the rubbish along the coast, checking all the crab pots and the fisheries and seeing if people fishing have permission. They’ve got to have a permit for fishing many area.

It’s very important for us to keep our Country safe and strong because we still got that songline.

It’s really, really long time we’ve been waiting for this IPA, so it’s really good to work on that.

SE Arnhem Land Rangers Steven Ngalmi, Adam Mangurra & Clive Nunggarrgalu collecting ghost nets. Photo: Northern Land Council.


I would just like the Canberra mob to know what we're doing. We protect the Country; the land and the sea. We need more rangers, more funding to help us to keep more workers, and more equipment to protect this Country. We need more help because we're here to protect.

The risk is the pig, buffalo, donkey, horses. That buffalo are most risk and the pig - ruining all the food and the water. Pig is dangerous for the community. We are worrying about the beach side - the mangroves dying out and what's causing that problem.

In the past I've been struggling, looking for a coordinator and trying to get new equipment. We need more vehicles, we need more ranger shirts. My ranger base getting crowded, so I'm looking forward to build a new ranger base. I need a bigger base where I can put everything on it.

SE Arnhem Land Rangers Steven Ngalmi, Clive Nunggarrgalu, Joanne Pomery & Preston Wurramara out on Sea Country. Courtesy: Northern Land Council.

Looking to the Future

I think they're going to be proud all them old people. They've been teaching me to learn everything about the land and sea. It’s important for me to take care of my culture and my ceremony.  I'm the leader now, after my father mob passed away.

This work I'm doing it make me really, really proud. I'm here to look after my Country and make strong my Country. I'm going to work with the new generation now. I'm going to teach them what ranger work like, teach them the culture, encourage them to lift their spirit.

It make you proud when you be in your own Country and it make you happy. Protect the Country, doing burning, and looking after the land.

I want this country to build up - build more houses and more countrymen can come back and stay there. If you go back to Country, you feel better - more proud, happy and make you strong. And you'll stay strong all the time."


-Clive Nunggarrgalu, Numburindi Senior Ranger

SE Arnhem Land