Our dear friend and photographer Renae Saxby had the privilege to spend some time with local ranger Jay on Arnhem Land.
We are delighted to support a homegrown talent in their pursuit of capturing the spirit of Arnhem Land and those who dedicate their time to country through photography. We had the opportunity to speak with Jay and Renae, asking them a few questions about themselves and the work they're doing.
My name is Josephine Jay Austral, I was born in Darwin and family is from the Tiwi Islands. I'm 23 years old and my favourite colour is blue.
What does your role as a Local Ranger involve?
Doing ground burning. Sometimes we go up in the helicopter and do aerial burning, doing cultural activities with the school kids every Wednesday, we do surveys and help work on the seasonal calendar with bush heritage.
Was working on the land always an aspiration of yours?
Yes as a young girl I've always told my brothers and sisters I would like to be a ranger and work on country.
What does spirit and connection to country mean to you?
A lot of things. I get to learn new and different things from elders, learn about their cultural ways.
How did it feel working with a photographer for the first time?
It was really good to experience something that I have never done before. I was feeling nervous and shy but it was really good. Some family members used to say that I should have been a model.
What is your dream for the future?
My dream for the future is to have a beautiful family with my partner Josiah John.
I'm Renae, I've just moved out of my rolling motorhome and into an actual house on Awabakal / Worimi Land, and my favourite colour is orange.
What drove you to explore life through photography?
I’m massively drawn to being a way for others to share their stories. The stories that cover my body in goosebumps aren't usually of the rich and famous, they belong to the ones who are connected to the land and to their truth. My way of contributing to healing and positive change is through visual storytelling.’
How has your time on Arnhem Land impacted you?
To be honest life out there makes more sense to me than life back here and it's been a bit tricky trying to feel good now that I'm surrounded by cars and concrete again. Time in community and out on Country always puts everything into perspective and I have the deepest respect for our First Nations People and their connection to the land and culture. I was in Arnhem land working with an incredible organisation, Mimal Land Management. It is an Indigenous owned organisation focused on bringing benefits to country and culture for Dalabon, Rembarrnga and Mayili landowners and people of south central Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. Which is how I met Josephine! She is a ranger at Mimal. It's amazing to be working with an organisation whose ethics are in the right place, who walk their talk and are working to heal country.
How did it feel to be allowed into such a tight-knit community?
I had recently met several of the women from this community at the 'Strong Women for Healthy Country' forum on Jaowyn Country, so it was special to be able to catch up with them again on their home Country. They are an inspiring mob of women and it's an honour just to be there and listen to their stories. My fav part of every day was hearing the male rangers laughing though! Best cackles ever!! They have a strong community out there.