Talking to Kandy Curran, it’s clear that her work is much more than a job.
“There are few places on earth where there are such productive waters surrounding a large town. On the eastern side, Broome has Roebuck Bay – a sublimely beautiful embayment that’s incredibly high in cultural values and home to rare dolphins, dugongs, turtles and shorebirds that fly thousands of kilometres every year to feast on the invertebrate life in the vast intertidal mudflats. Then on the west, Broome has Cable Beach, a mecca for beachgoers, Humpback whales and loads of fish. Add onto this the fossilised footprints of some of the largest dinosaurs to walk the planet – some 16 species in fact, and the multicultural history of these waters, and you can see that Broome is a very special place to live and work.”
Kandy is the Project Manager for the Roebuck Bay Working Group, a not-for-profit organisation which works collaboratively to ensure the protection and proper management of Roebuck Bay. She oversees the Group’s projects, governance and finances – no small task for an entity with eight sponsors and dozens of stakeholders. “It’s a big job, and the number of projects we run has increased substantially over the years, however the group has a talented management committee who are really supportive. We’re working at a time that’s very exciting for the bay; Yawuru people have Native Title now and are taking their rightful role alongside Parks and Wildlife and local government to manage the proposed Nagulagun Roebuck Bay Marine Park and Yawuru coastal conservation estates along Broome’s coast.
“What our group does particularly well, is to put our heads together with Yawuru Traditional Owners, community groups, scientists, conservationists, industry, agencies and local government to find solutions to the Bay’s management challenges – and often we do find them. It’s very constructive.”
Kandy’s background in media and science is evident in her work. Two initiatives Kandy is particularly proud of, are the popular Science on the Broome coast series and Broome’s first homegrown short film fest. The science series, which is partnered with the Yawuru Land and Sea Unit, showcases the exciting research underway on the Kimberley coast, and brings scientists, coastal managers and the community together.
“The response has been incredible and is resulting in research collaborations and a better informed community.”
Kandy also co-coordinated the Roebuck Bay inaugural MUD AND SALTwater SHORT FILM FEST, in which 17 short films were made about Roebuck Bay. “Of course I had to make one too,” she says, laughing. “My husband asked me why I had to run a film festival and make a film as well. The film was about Roebuck Bay’s intertidal mudflats. These mud dwelling invertebrates are quirky and beautiful and strange – and the fuel for the shorebird’s 10,000 km annual migration to the northern hemisphere to breed. I’m really fascinated by them and I wanted people to marvel at them too.”
Kandy’s passion for the town is obvious when she talks about Broome’s potential.
“I’d love to see more films being made about the region and the people. The Kimberley is wild and beautiful and the people who have lived in this region for a long time and run businesses are great characters with authentic stories to tell, particularly Traditional Owners. Looking ahead, I would also like to see a large interpretive centre to showcase all of the extraordinary life in Broome’s coastal waters and this includes the dinosaurs that roamed the coast 130 million years ago and the wonderful cultural stories.”
And how does she see the future? “I’d like to see the proposed Nagulagun Roebuck Bay Marine Park and the Yawuru Conservation Estates gazetted, to ensure Roebuck Bay is the given the resources to protect and manage it into the future. And I’d like to see less pollution entering Roebuck Bay – and that’s a challenge our group is working positively on with industry, local government and the community.”