Grant Wallace on his first day on the job building the new Emily to Jessie Gap walking trail. Photo: Chloe Erlich.

The Northern Territory government handed 16 parks, conservation areas and historic reserves in our region back to their traditional owners. In return, they granted 99-year leases over all locations so they could jointly manage them with the government.

In 2010 our council resolved that all rent, camping fees and other income generated from the parks be used for community benefit. We have helped the traditional owners to establish adaptable governance arrangements and to plan and implement activities aimed at achieving broad social, cultural and economic benefits. 

Most of the approximately 300 initiatives implemented until 2021 have focussed on ‘looking after country’, typically by supporting infrastructure projects at outstations in the parks. They also include a large meeting shelter in the Watarrka National Park, an app for visitors to Yeperenye/Emily Gap and the construction of a walking and cycling trail to Jessie Gap. These activities are designed to promote awareness of the parks’ cultural values and lay the groundwork for future tourism enterprises.