Native title holders from the Imarnte [Ee-MAN-ta] land holding group are getting ready to celebrate the long awaited determination of native title over the Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve they call Wurre [WOOR-rah].

The families will be gathering at the Rainbow Valley ranger station on Tuesday, 7 May at 3.30pm, to hear Justice Reeves hand down a non-exclusive consent determination over an area of approximately 25 square kilometres.

The reserve, an hour’s drive south of Alice Springs, contains important sacred sites and is of great cultural significance to native title holders from the Southern Arrernte language group, many of whom live on nearby outstations.

“Rainbow Valley has always been our country, handed down from grandfather to grandfather,” said native title holder Eric Braedon.

“It was a big ceremony place for all Imarnte people from all different areas of Imarnte country. All came in to do ceremony until the white man came and moved us to Maryvale Station,” Mr Braedon said.

The determination area has been jointly managed by the native title holders and the NT Parks & Wildlife Commission (PWC) since 2005.

The native title holders have worked alongside PWC rangers to manage the reserve for visitors and to protect its cultural and natural values, for example through weed and fire management and building tracks.

When the Central Land Council negotiated the joint management arrangement with the Northern Territory the government agreed to consent to a native title claim over the area.

However, it did not agree to the lodgement of the claim until June 2018.

“The determination means that native title holders can use the area in accordance with their traditional laws and customs,” said the CLC’s manager of native title, Francine McCarthy.

“It recognises that their cultural connection to Wurre dates back to time immemorial, and acknowledges how much the area means to them.”

“Their native title rights will co-exist with the use of Wurre as a conservation reserve,” Ms McCarthy said.

Native title holder Ricky Orr has conducted cultural tours to his country since 2008.

“The area is a very important meeting place for visiting in the good times when food and water are plentiful and, most significantly, as a men’s ceremonial ground,” Mr Orr said.

The native title holders will exercise their rights through their prescribed body corporate, the Wura Aboriginal Corporation.