Phillip Creek native title determination to trigger memories

A native title determination over Phillip Creek Station in the Northern Territory will trigger memories for many Warumungu and Warlmanpa language speakers this week.

On Thursday, 3 August, Justice Mortimer will hand down a consent determination over an area of approximately 3,800 square kilometres during a special sitting of the Federal Court on the cattle station 55 kilometres north of Tennant Creek.

“Some of us worked or grew up on Phillip Creek Station, or our families told stories of what life was like working and living on the station in the early days,” said Norman Frank, one of the native title holders.

“As a young man, my father worked there, doing station work and looking after country,” Mr Frank said.

The nine landholding groups with traditional attachment to the claim area are the Kankawarla [GAN-ga-war-la], Jajjinyarra [DJA-djin-ar-ra], Patta [BA-ta], Pirrtangu [BIR-tang-oo], Purrurtu [BUR-rur-doo], Wapurru [WA-bur-roo], Yurtuminyi [JOOR-tu-mi-nee], Kanturrpa [GAN-tur-pa] and Linga [LIN-ga] groups.

The native title holders will travel from across the Territory to start the ceremony at 10.30am at Purrumpuru [BOOM-bu-roo] Waterhole, one of a number of significant waterholes in the claim area.

One of them is the manager of the Central Land Council’s native title unit, Francine McCarthy.

“The determination recognises our rights to hunt and gather on the land and waters and to conduct cultural activities and ceremonies,” said Ms McCarthy.

“It will also give us the right to negotiate about exploration, mining and tourism activities on our land while the lessee will continue to operate the lease as a cattle station,” she said.

A good relationship with the pastoral lessee has enabled the native title holders to continue to visit their country and look after it.

Between 1995 and 1998, the CLC negotiated approval for three community living areas on the station for native title holders and their families.

These excisions are not part of the native title determination area.

When Phillip Creek Station was placed on the market, in the early 2000s, the native title holders were not successful in purchasing it.