Meet Illaroo Guest Speakers

It is our pleasure to introduce you to a selection of the special guests gracing us at Campfire Sessions, Illaroo.

An important element of our events is our work directly with local community and organisations. Showcasing passion, knowledge and expertise from the neighbourhood, alongside national and international appearances. We are grateful to have the support of the Yuraygir locals. Looking forward to exploring this fascinating region during March 2 - 4. Don't forget to say g'day when you see these familiar faces at the event!



Uncle Ron Heron is a respected and much-loved senior Yaegl man who grew up in the region. He has many memories of recent history through lived experience, and ancestral knowledge handed down through previous generations. Significantly, Uncle Ron has also undertaken Aboriginal Studies, obtaining qualifications in both anthropology and archaeology, collecting many more stories as part of his thesis. He also went on to lecture at Southern Cross University. He has since retired, but was recently awarded a Doctor of Letters by Macquarie University in recognition of his knowledge and ongoing cooperative work on ‘bush medicines’. He also works with National Parks and Wildlife Service when they are undertaking excavation works or as part of their Discovery program. (text courtesy of Yuraygir Walking Tours)

Both Ron and Carmel are authors of the “Yaegl Medicinal and Plant Resources Handbook” (published by McMillan), and work with the Indigenous Bio-resources Research Group, Macquarie University, Sydney.

Don't miss Uncle Ron's Welcome to Country ceremony from 10am, Saturday morning at Campfire Sessions, Illaroo.



Aunty Carmel Charlton is a senior Yaegl elder who grew up the Yamba area. Both her and Ron are local experts in Yaegl bush foods and medicinal plants, and jointly run the Maclean High School “River of Learning” program, where this knowledge is passed on to students. Aunty Carmel was also one of the Yaegl elders who started their famous Native Title application, with a land grant in 2015, and more recently, with a sea rights grant for 90 km of coast between Woody Head and Wooli, and 200 m out to sea. This means that the Yaegl have unrestricted non-commercial fishing rights in this area, the first successful Native Title claim to coast in NSW.

Ron and Carmel are also authors of several scientific articles on the subject, and support the NISEP (National Indigenous Science Experience Program) with Macquarie University during National Science week in Sydney.

Join Ron & Aunty Carmel for a bush medicines and tucker session, from 11am, Saturday at Campfire Sessions, Illaroo

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Mark is a renowned ecologist from the Yuraygir region, spending much of his time guiding visitors and locals through the fascinating landscape. Besides successfully facilitating restoration work in the hinterland area with private landholders over the past 4 years, Mark has worked privately and with Nature Conservation Council on bushfire management. He has a deep understanding of biodiversity and a keen eye for spotting local fauna and fauna. 

Be ready for the guided trek with Dr Mark from 8am, Saturday at Campfire Sessions, Illaroo.

" i am inspired by the yaegl landscape and those stories which were shared with me and passed down from our old people. "

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Frances Belle Parker is a proud Yaegl woman, painter and installation artist from Maclean, New South Wales. She is deeply inspired by her Mother’s land (Yaegl land) and the Island in the Clarence River that her Mother grew up on, Ulgundahi Island. She came to prominence after winning the Blake Prize in 2000 making her the youngest ever winner and the first Indigenous recipient in the prize’s history. From 2005 to 2011 Parker was a finalist in the NSW Indigenous Parliament Art Award. Frances was also a finalist in the prestigious 2006 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award. Frances completed a BFA through UNSW, and a BVA (Honours) and a Masters of Indigenous Studies (Wellbeing) both through Southern Cross University.

Learn more about her numerous, successful solo and group exhibitions here.

" it is my responsibility to document these stories and to map our landscape, in doing so i am making a valuable resource for my children and all of the younger yaegl mob. "

Enjoy the indigenous art workshop under the tipi with Frances from 2pm Saturday, at Campfire Sessions, Illaroo. Reserve your space for $30, which includes paints, tools, exclusive tuition by Frances and your very own hand-painted canvas (a jute bag you can keep!).



Robert (Bob) Fuller heralds a list of fascinating qualifications as an anthropologist/archaeologist. After retiring, he completed a research Master of Philosophy at Macquarie University, Sydney, on Indigenous astronomy. Rons dedication to studying cultural astronomy of the Kamilaroi and Euahlayi peoples of New South Wales, lead to the publishing of his work. He is now at the School of Humanities and Languages, University of NSW, and is in the third year of a PhD researching the cultural astronomy of the saltwater Aboriginal peoples of the Australian East Coast.

He has been active in outreach to the non-Indigenous community through lectures and non-academic articles, and was the instigator of the successful documentary on Euahlayi astronomy, “Star Stories of the Dreaming”. Bob possesses a lifetime of interesting stories and possesses many strong relationships with the Yaegl community. You can also contact him at to learn more.

Finish the day with an awe-inspiring presentation and astronomy session under the stars, with Bob Fuller from 7pm on Saturday evening at Campfire Sessions, Illaroo.


Check out the Campfire Illaroo experience.



Photography in order of appearance; Wayne Griffin, Yuraygir Heritage WalksSBS