Powering on at Kabulwarnamyo
Kabulwarnamyo is a remote homeland and ranger base on the Arnhem Land Plateau, with a permanent population of about 50 people. The community is the home of the traditional custodians of the Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area which covers a massive area of stunning stone and gorge country. The area is dotted with hundreds of significant Indigenous heritage sites. For many years the traditional owners have collaborated with various organisations and scientists and it is through these relationships that the community has developed the world’s first greenhouse gas abatement scheme based on fire management practices.
To keep doing this important work into the future the community required a reliable and environmentally friendly source of energy. In 2009 Bushlight welcomed the opportunity to work with Kabulwarnamyo to support the community’s long-term plans.
“Before we just had the old generator and it was always humbug for us, broken all the time. Now things are so good - we always have power and we can concentrate on getting our work done instead of worrying for power”. This is what Serina Namarnyilk said about having a Bushlight system installed in her community of Kabulwarnamyo.
Various aspects of this unique community presented challenges for Bushlight in designing a renewable energy system that would meet the needs of residents. One of the difficulties presented in the design of the energy system was access to the community itself. The Mann River is prone to floods and the access route is a 50km heavy sand track. After significant financial and human resources were contributed by the community to prepare the road, Bushlight’s electrical contractor used 4WD tractor equipment to get the system to site.
In addition, the system design required standalone caravan poles to provide power to people living in raised tent structures with no existing power services. While domestic power requirements were quite small the community also required power for energy intensive operations such as the office which acts as the headquarters for all Warddeken operations and the workshop, which maintains everything from Land Cruisers to helicopters. Bushlight worked alongside the families and rangers in this self-reliant and hardworking community to address these challenges and in June 2010 a hybrid solar system was commissioned.
Speaking of the fire management program, elder Peter Biless Nambalambarl said “when we three old men and the whitefellas here who helped to start this have all gone, it will sustain our young people into the future as they inherit this land and make a living from it”.
According to Carol Pamkal, Bushlight has helped in achieving this dream, “We’re lucky we’ve got this Bushlight system because it means we never run out of power if we use it the right way. We’ve had power all through the wet season”.