Regional Development Australia (RDA) Wheatbelt has recently funded an innovative project to build Yued Aboriginal enterprise through its Noongar Enterprise Development Support (NEDS). The initiative is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services and aims to build capacity, cultural knowledge and new Astrotourism businesses in the Shires of Moora and Dandaragan.

The project will deliver a series of workshops, training sessions and campfire stargazing events involving local Yued Aboriginal students, their families, Elders and the broader communities in the Shires of Moora and Dandaragan.

The project has commenced with initial consultations with Yued community members in both Moora and Dandaragan.

RDA Wheatbelt is part of a national network that works with all levels of government, business and community groups to support the economic development of their regions.

Mr Terry ‘Tuck’ Waldron, Chair of the RDA Wheatbelt Committee said, “The NEDS program is unlocking hidden talents that will lead to new enterprise in regional WA. The Yued Aboriginal Astronomy project is highly collaborative and is going to connect Noongar Enterprise with visitors to the Wheatbelt region.”

STEM incursions to schools in both Moora and Dandaragan will introduce students to astronomy, the future of WA’s space science industry for study and career pathways, and reducing light pollution to protect WA’s world-class dark night sky asset. Aboriginal Astronomy will be a highlight with an aim to uncover Yued stories of the constellations that visiting tourists can experience in the future.

Local Yued Elder, Fred Mogridge said, “This project is another part of the jigsaw to inspire the young generation to extend their cultural knowledge, connect with the night sky and in the end start businesses that share Yued stories with visitors to Moora.”

Astrotourism WA Founder, Carol Redford, is working alongside Ms Donna Vanzetti, CEO of Beam Me Up Media. Ms Redford says “Aboriginal people were more than likely the first Astronomers on Earth and the study of the night sky informed on seasons, food sources, direction and cultural values. In fact, there are six Noongar Aboriginal Seasons and that alone demonstrates a greater level of understanding about our environment.”

“There is a rich history in the stars and it dates back tens of thousands of years in Yued Country. It’s something that visitors will be incredibly keen to experience,” she said.

 The Shire of Moora and the Shire of Dandaragan are both part of the Astrotourism Towns project that’s mapping out dark sky locations where visitors are welcome to bring telescopes and cameras for stargazing and astrophotography. The network was established in 2018 and now features 50 selected locations for visiting “astrotourists” across 15 Shires in the Wheatbelt and Mid West regions.

Stargazing events in the towns have been incredibly popular. The next step is to develop local astro-experiences for visitors. Aboriginal Astronomy is one such experience that will be very attractive to WA’s intrastate market not to mention the international market in a post-pandemic world.

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