Watarrka hand back will provide meaningful partnerships in joint management

Posted: Wed, July 25, 2012

Luritja traditional owners celebrate the hand back of Watarrka National Park.

Luritja traditional owners are celebrating the hand back of 1052 square kilometres of land within the Watarrka National Park when it was handed back to them by the NT Government at a ceremony in the Park today.

The Watarrka Park Land Trust has been granted NT Park freehold title under the NT Government’s Parks and Reserves (Framework for the Future) Act 2003 which was then immediately leased back to the Northern Territory Government for 99 years and jointly managed by the NT Parks and Wildlife Service and the Luritja traditional owners.

Visited by up to 215,000 visitors a year, this important tourist destination, which includes King’s Canyon, will continue to be managed and developed as an internationally significant conservation area and as a place of rich Aboriginal cultural significance.

Responsibility of management for the Park will be shared by the joint management partners, including traditional owner involvement in all aspects, especially cultural heritage management that will be encouraged and supported.

As joint managers, the Parks and Wildlife Service will support and facilitate training, employment and commercial enterprise development for traditional owners with the support of the Central Land Council (CLC) and the Northern Territory tourism industry.

CLC director, David Ross congratulated the Luritja traditional owners on their patient approach and mutually beneficial outcomes.

“The Luritja claimants have waited a long time for this 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.

The Park title handback is the last for the central Australian region.