Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Ancestral lands returned to Central Australian traditional owners

Joint Media Release with:

  • Warren Snowdon MP, Minister for Indigenous Health, Member for Lingiari

The Australian Government today handed back four parcels of land to Arrernte, Anmatyerre, Warlpiri and Alyawarr traditional owners at a ceremony in Alice Springs.

These handbacks follow years of hard work by traditional owners and the Central Land Council for recognition of their special connection to their ancestral lands.

The Eastern Arrernte people were handed the deeds to the former Loves Creek pastoral lease (Loves Creek Claim No. 143) – 3,784 square kilometres of land that is steeped in shared history.

Loves Creek Station was established in 1896 and has been used to run cattle for more than 100 years.

Before this, local Aboriginal people and early settlers clashed violently over ownership of the land.

It was also the site of a ‘ruby’ rush in 1887 that brought 150 prospectors to the area and later gold was discovered at nearby Arltunga, where it was mined until 1903.

In recognition of this shared history, the traditional owners have agreed to allow an area of the land to be reserved for use by the public for fossicking.

The Central and Western Arrernte traditional owners were handed back the West MacDonnell Land Claim No. 205 – 2,566 square kilometres of land that includes the West MacDonnell National Park.

The West MacDonnell National Park is the last of a series of Northern Territory National Park to be handed back to traditional owners. This Aboriginal land will now be leased to the Northern Territory Government for 99 years to continue to be used as a National Park.

The Central and Western Arrernte traditional owners will jointly manage the park and conservation of native flora and fauna.

Two other parcels of land were also handed back to traditional owners – the Alcoota Land Claim No. 146, made up of 2,972 square kilometres and the 26.25 hectare Crown Hill Land Claim No. 106.

The Alcoota site is a working pastoral property and provides employment opportunities for Alyawarr and Anmatyerre peoples to live and work on their country.

Crown Hill has great cultural importance to the Warlpiri people and the Anmatyerre people, who maintain a strong connection to this land.

The four parcels of land were claimed under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.

The Australian Government acknowledges and respects the continuing cultural attachment Aboriginal people have to their land and will continue to work with them to deliver better outcomes for Aboriginal Australians and their communities.

Since 2007, the Australian Government has handed back 42,135 square kilometres of land under the Land Rights Act, more than 12 times the area of land handed back between 2002 and 2007.