Bitja Wokka meaning Fire Country, is an immersive VR film featuring local Bpangerang stories and culture experienced in Northeast Victorian landscapes. The first of its kind in Australia - the film highlights the role Indigenous knowledge and cultural burning practices can have in reducing future fire threat and maintaining a healthy environment for all.
The film was developed through Wangaratta Art Gallery’s Spark Bushfire Recovery program, an initiative that provided opportunities for the Wangaratta community to explore their relationship to nature and their connection to community in the aftermath of the 2020 bushfires. The project focused on recovering from the bushfires but also developed community resilience and preparedness for future crises through learning about Indigenous Caring for Country practices.
Wangaratta Art Gallery worked closely with the Bpangerang community and elder Uncle Darren Atkinson to realise the project. Melbourne based, immersive technology studio, PHORIA, was commissioned to produce the film.
A Wangaratta Art Gallery project with funding from Regional Arts Victoria, the Victorian Government and Commonwealth Government under the Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) delivered a tailored creative recovery program for people affected by the 2020 bushfires in the Wangaratta region. In addition to this funding this program has been made possible by the support of Murray PHN Bushfire Recovery Community Wellbeing Program.
Darren Atkinson at the cultural burn, 2022. Photo Richard Iskov.