December 1991

Land Rights News Vol2 No23 Dec 1991 Arrernte, Luritja, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara traditional landowners gathered at the town of Finke to receive title to five small areas of land at the end of October.

The areas - Finke Stock Reserve, Bloodwood Bore, Charlotte Waters, Goyder Stock Reserve and Alice Well - are all former stock routes and reserves totalling about 150 square kilometres. Joker Doolan, a former CLC Executive member, is Chairman of the Apatula Land Trust, which holds four of the titles.

"It's very important that this land comes back," said Mr Doolan.

"I come up from Adelaide hospital for the handover on behalf of my family - for my grandchildren. People are happy to get that land back. All that time waiting. All those years - ever since I was a kid.

"I knew all the time that we would get it back sooner or later - while I'm still around."

It's more than 15 years since traditional landowners began formal efforts to win European title to their country. Unfortunately, despite years of negotiations with the NT Government and local pastoralists, the issue was not resolved until the September 1989 Memorandum of Agreement between the Prime Minister and the Northern Territory Chief Minister.

One aspect of that Agreement was a decision that certain stock routes and reserves should be "scheduled" as Aboriginal land in an amendment to the Land Rights Act, without the need to continue the long and arduous process of hearing before the Aboriginal land Commissioner. Alice Well was also "scheduled" as part of that process.

The area of around 13 square kilometres was part of the Southern Stock Route which runs through Maryvale Pastoral Lease. Traditional landowners for the area have been pushing to win title for their land since at least 1973 when they raised the issue with the Woodward Inquiry into Land Rights in the Northern Territory.

The traditional landowners continued their fight to win back this land and even when they were unable to live at Alice Well, they arranged to make regular trips to visit and maintain sacred sites.

The title is held by Inarnme Aboriginal Land Trust and the area is expected to provide a home for the traditional landowners.