PM hands land back: Finke Gorge National Park
One of Central Australia’s most spectacular and popular national parks will become Aboriginal land under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.
The Lhere Pirnte Aboriginal Land Trust will hold the title to the 422 square kilometre Finke Gorge National Park, 138 kilometres west of Alice Springs.
The Finke Gorge National Park is to be immediately leased back to the Northern Territory Government for 99 years to be jointly managed by the NT Parks and Wildlife Service and the traditional owners.
Aboriginal people have been involved in tourism in the area since the fifties and have always had a vision for jointly managing the park to maximise its attractions.
Traditional owner Conrad Ratara said everybody is very excited about the handback and its leaseback as a Northern Territory national park.
“It’s a really good thing after all these years,” Mr Ratara said.
“We’ve got to work together – let’s work straight and walk down the road together and keep walking together.”
The traditional owners are mostly Western Arrernte people, many of whom live around Hermannsburg and local outstations. Nearly everybody in the area has a connection to Finke Gorge through three estate groups: Ntaria, Roulbmaulbma and Uruna. Each estate is marked, divided and dissected by dreamings and sites.
The park will continue to operate as it has done in the past but under joint management it will be developed and enriched by the input of its traditional owners.
The Tjuwanpa Rangers employed by the Central Land Council at Hermannsburg have already been working in the park for several years and will increase their involvement in the park under joint management.
CLC Director David Ross congratulated the traditional owners.
“I know this ceremony today will make a lot of people very happy,” Mr Ross said. “They have waited a long time and they are keen to take advantage of the new opportunities presented to them by joint management. I wish them all the best,” Mr Ross said.
Finke Gorge supported a lot of Aboriginal families people quite comfortably in ancient times due to the permanent water and the richness of its resources. It is deeply imbued with the cultural and spiritual values of its Aboriginal owners and internationally recognised as a site of botanical significance.
In 2004, the Park was included in Schedule 1 of the Parks and Reserves (Framework for the
Future) Act, facilitating the transfer of the land to an Aboriginal Land Trust on the behalf of the traditional Aboriginal owners .
7 June 2011