Handback at Piccaninny Bore

May 1980

WESTERN DESERT LAND CLAIM Claim Lodged: May 1980 Title Handback: 25 October 1991 Area: 3682 sq km

"We've got two titles," said Yingualyalya Aboriginal Land Trust Chairman Mick Inverway Jungarrayl. "White man's title and Aboriginal title." Mr Inverway was speaking at Piccaninny Bore, 600 kilometres north west of Alice Springs, following the handback to traditional landowners of two areas of land near the Northern Territory-Western Australian border by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Robert Tickner.

"I'm very pleased to see the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs coming from Alice Springs and a long way," said Mr Inverway. "Coming here to Piccaninny Bore ad he handed over that title. that's very good! We got the land back. We'll be able to look after that place."

The original claim over the area was lodged by the Central Land Council on behalf of the Gurindji, Nyininy and Warlpiri traditional landowners in 1980. The two areas returned cover 3,682 square kilometres. Popeye Jangala, the Chairman of the Mount Frederick Aboriginal Land Trust, said he was glad to win non-Aboriginal title to his traditional country. "I've been walking all over this country - Wave Hill way, Lajamanu way, Balgo way - a big country. I'm going to stop here now. I'll stay here. This one."

The area was first visited by non-Aboriginal people in 1856, when explorer A.C. Gregory earmarked it for cattle grazing.

More permanent non-Aboriginal occupation grew out of prospecting in the early 1900s, sparking killings between Aboriginal people and miners. Central Land Council Director David Ross said that the return of the land is a measure of the strength of the traditional landowners bond with their country.

"Despite the harshness of this desert country and the brutal history of their contact with non-Aboriginal people over the last 120 years, the traditional landowners have kept their culture strong."