Meet Aboriginal Heritage Guide Dennis Fisher

Aboriginal Heritage Guide, Dennis Fisher, speaks about his heritage, his role at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, teaching people and his love of the land.

Interview with Dennis Fisher 12 May 2020

Q/1 Tell us about yourself? (Your name, country, & position at RBGV) 

Dennis Fisher 

Wakka Wakka Nation, QLD, grew up on a Mission Settlement 

Aboriginal Heritage Guide 


Q2/ Can you describe your job at RBGV? 

I teach people about native plants. I teach about Aboriginal tools, food, medicine, tribal groups and what the land means for Aboriginal people and how we look after the land. When people understand what the land means to Aboriginal people, they connect with it and can ask you questions about it. It is about looking after Mother Earth and to only take what you need. 


Q3/ What got you interested in plants / led you to working at RBGV?  

I grew up on an Aboriginal Mission in Qld. We would go into the bush and get some Aboriginal plants for food and medicine. When this job came up at the Gardens, it came at the right time, and I knew it was the right thing to help me get back to my roots. This job gave me that and helped me to discover who I really am. ‘The land is part of us and we are part of the land’. Our culture, our language and our identity come from the land. 


Q4/ Who comes on your tours/walks/programs? 

People from all over the world. Students, young and old, families and friends. 

Q5/ What do you like the most about your job? 

There is no pressure. I live my life as our ancestors lived it. 


Q6/ Which part of the Gardens do you connect with the most / find most special? 

It is from the heart what the land did for me. I cannot discriminate. It is all of it. It is full of different emotions for me – pain, sorrow, loss, sadness, happiness, parties and laughter. 


Q7/ What is the best or most surprising thing someone has said to you after attending one of your programs?  

Some people cry and get upset after the tour because they can see what the land means to Aboriginal people and how people are now destroying the land. To me it is about how people are now all about taking and no one is giving back. This is why we now have big floods and fires.  

I think the tour helps people to understand what life is really about. It is not about money and power. This respect for the land was here for thousands of years and the land was cared for. Now in just a couple of hundred years, it is being destroyed. 

Q8/ Do you think Indigenous traditional land practices would beneficial today and if so how? 

Yes, I do think that our understanding of fire can help us to prevent and manage fires in the bushland. 


Q9/ Do you have a favourite plant/tree/fungi – one that’s particularly special to you?  

For me it all comes from the heart. To me the land means more than the individual plants. 

Every part of the Gardens is a part of me, a part of my ancestors, my language, culture, identity.