From the dense paperbarks within the Arafura swamp, to open levee Melaleuca viridiflora woodland at the margins of the swamp and into the uplands - we have diverse communities of woodland plant communities.
Further from the coast we have some woodlands dominated by Corymbia latifolia and far inland we find isolated, dense patches of lancewood in dry savannah country.
But most of our area is made up of the taller woodlands of Darwin stringybark and woollybutt. These are very important trees for us. The stringybark is Dhuwa moiety and we call it Gardayka. The woolybutt is Yirritja moiety and we call it Badarr. Badarr bark changes color inside with the seasons and the bark is waterproof so we can always make a fire even in the wet.
The flowering of the forests of Badarr and Gardayka that are most important for many species of sugarbag bees that are celebrated in song and ceremony. When we go hunting with our children they always ask for sugarbag.
When healthy, our woodland fruit trees offer good harvests of green plum, billy goat plum and other bush fruits. It is also important habitat for animals like glider possums, ringtail possums, many birds, bats and lizards have lost important nesting habitat.
The cypress pine is very important to us as it shows us where there is underground water. The cypress doesn’t like fire and if it dies we worry because it means the water is gone or that there is bad fire.
To keep the woodlands healthy and feeding the sugarbag we must burn country in the right way, at the right time, keeping the flames away from high in the trees. Very hot fires in the late dry season can badly affect the flowering of the woodland species.
We have rated the health of our woodlands as ganga manymak or fair — but in fact it is going through a slow recovery from one of the strongest cyclones in recent decades.
All the right plants are growing and flowering together in our woodlands so native bees are making plenty of sugar bag, with sugar glider, possum, echidna, night owl and bats nesting in hollow logs.