Land Rights News Central Australia: Land Rights News (April 2010)
New Indigenous Tourist project for the West MacDonnell Ranges
The Ilpurla Trail is being developed through cooperation by Arrernte traditional owners and the CLC with tour group Into the Blue Creative Walks based in Alice Springs.
“You could probably tick off five really significant landmarks both cultural and from an aesthetics perspective along the trail that are really, really beautiful,” Raymond Hawkins from Into the Blue said. “We’re certainly aiming to make one of the great walks of the world.”
The Ilpurla Trail will take six days and five nights to walk and take hikers from Roma Gorge near Glen Helen to Palm Valley near Hermannsburg west of Alice Springs.
Mr Hawkins said the spectacular Larapinta Trail through the West MacDonnell Ranges had become hugely popular with hikers but had left some people wanting to avoid other groups of walkers and lamenting a lack of interaction with Aboriginal people.
“In response to those two things is why my company and CLC and the traditional owners have developed this trail to give people that sense of isolation, quiet but most importantly to give them a sense of actually talking to the Arrernte people,” he said.
“We’ve never walked the Larapinta Trail or any of the country around here without strong Aboriginal interaction and we are looking to employ, that’s a big part of the trail.
“Really the guts of it, it’s an employment opportunity, both in terms of guiding, interpretation, ownership of the trail by Indigenous owners and infrastructure development and maintenance that may well be done through the Tjuwanpa Rangers.”
The employment opportunities the trail is expected to bring in are a particularly attractive aspect of the venture for traditional owners such as Ralph Malbunka whose country it passes through.
“This is something that we’ve been looking forward too,” he said. “Now we’ve got something for the future too.
“The young people in the future might start looking at it and be interested in looking after their country too like we looked after our country, now it’s up to them to look after their country, to share with the others too.
“We don’t mind taking people there to show our country, what it’s like because the country is very cultural to us and we want to share it with the outside people to show that the country that they’ve never seen before,” Mr Malbunka said.
One young man who has been training up to work on the trail is Nicholas Williams from Hermannsburg.
He said it will be difficult to explain to visitors from around the world Aboriginal people’s connection with their country but it will easier when they are walking through it.
“It’s hard to explain, but it will be easier because they can tell how you are connected when they see how you are with the country,” he said.
“It’s beautiful, I love it. I love being here.”