Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Historic Hand Back to Traditional Owners in Central Australia

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Julia Gillard MP, Prime Minister
    The Hon Warren Snowdon MP, Federal Minister for Indigenous Health
    The Hon Paul Henderson MLA, Northern Territory Chief Minister

One of the largest parcels of Aboriginal land in the history of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (Northern Territory) has been returned to traditional owners.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard today handed back the deeds to four parcels of land to traditional owners at a ceremony in Alice Springs.

Two of the four parcels – Finke Gorge National Park and Simpson Desert stage 4 – were some of the earliest claims lodged under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.

Simpson Desert stage 4 is a parcel of two pieces of land, which together measure an area of approximately 1,827,600 hectares, making it one of the largest grants of Aboriginal land in land rights history.

This is a historic day for the Arrernte peoples of Central Australia and a milestone in the history of land rights in Australia.

Finke Gorge National Park, located approximately 138 kilometres west of Alice Springs, has been recognised internationally for its rich diversity of Central Australian flora

The Park includes a unique collection of rare and ancient plants. It also contains many sites of cultural significance to groups of the Arrernte people.

The park is the latest of 13 Northern Territory parks to be returned to traditional owners under joint management arrangements following a landmark agreement in 2004.

Under this agreement, the land is leased back to the Northern Territory for 99 years for use as a National Park, ensuring it operates as a protected conservation area for the enjoyment of all.

The traditional owners will have a strong voice in the future management and operation of the park under a joint management partnership with the Territory’s Parks and Wildlife Service.

The Central Land Council and traditional owners are working to design community development projects that can be supported with the income received under park leasing arrangements.

Simpson Desert stage 4, located east of Alice Springs, forms the estates of various traditional owners of the Arrernte group of peoples and is rich in cultural history and biodiversity.

The remaining two parcels in this package of four include two smaller grants of land in the vicinity of Hermannsburg.

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 Indigenous Australians and their communities.