Western Deserts Land Management, CSR etc

Submitted: Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 09:15
ThreadID: 43061 Views:3568 Replies:6 FollowUps:5
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Herewith copy and paste from Ngaanyatjarra Council website

Land Management
Brief Description of the Ngaanyatjarra Lands

The Ngaanyatjarra Lands comprise a vast area of Western Australia (250,000 km2 or approximately 3% of mainland Australia) adjoining the Northern Territory and South Australian borders. These Lands are entirely within the state of Western Australia and fall within three shires: Ngaanyatjarraku, East Pilbara and Laverton.

The Outback Highway (Great Central Road) bisects the Ngaanyatjarra Lands east to southwest, providing access to two major regional centres: Alice Springs (1,000 km NE of Warburton) and Kalgoorlie (900 km SW of Warburton). The 1,000 km section of road from Laverton to Uluru National Park is unsealed and subject to wet weather closure. Whilst numerous other roads exist, they are generally poorly (if at all) maintained and require special permits for transit (see Protocol under the Tourism section for more information).

Traditional Owners have maintained continuous association with their country, comprise the majority resident population, and provide the entire regional infrastructure such as roads, roadhouses, stores, health clinics, and aerial services.

The Ngaanyatjarra Lands encompass sections of the Gibson Desert, Great Sandy Desert, Great Victoria Desert, and all of the Central Ranges that occur in Western Australia. These four regions correspond to the Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia (IBRA) regions of the same name, as described by Thackway and Cresswell (1995).

These immense areas of spectacular scenery have few obvious signs of human presence. In particular, the Central Ranges are considered by the Australian Heritage Commission to have “great conservational [sic] and recreational importance which is equal to or greater than that of Ayers Rock” (AHC 1981).

Ngaanyatjarra Land Council holds some of this land as 99-year and 50-year leases and Aboriginal Reserve. However, the traditional lands are more extensive and represented by 10 native title claims. Although the people of the Western Desert Cultural Bloc are not limited by boundaries or borders and have traditional responsibilities that go beyond these, historic events led to the provision of services being defined by state borders and the formation of the Ngaanyatjarra Council that defines the Ngaanyatjarra Lands.

Permits for entry (see Protocol under the Tourism section for more information) by non-Aboriginal people onto the Ngaanyatjarra Lands is under the authority of the Aboriginal Lands Trust, administered by Ngaanyatjarra Council.

The pattern of existing land use within the Ngaanyatjarra Lands (IPA) Indigenous Protected Area is complex and varied, though traditional practices continue to predominate. There has never been a pastoral industry in the region although the United Aborigines Mission at Warburton managed sheep, cattle, goats and horses until the mid-1980s. The only export industries have been sandalwood harvest, collection of dingo scalps, and prospecting. Physical access to and within the Ngaanyatjarra Lands is difficult, as even major roads are not all weather. Permits for travel by non-Aboriginal people anywhere other than the Great Central Road has to be approved by Ngaanyatjarra Council (permits for transit on the Great Central Road can be readily obtained from the Council’s Alice Springs office or WA Department of Indigenous Affairs in Kalgoorlie).

In recent years, the Ngaanyatjarra people have been successful in developing their communities and associated infrastructure, but resources for people to look after their country have been more difficult to secure. In November 1997, Ngaanyatjarra Council appointed a Land Use Planner to provide strategic coordination of existing land management activities, and to assist Traditional Owners in the consideration and progression of land use options.

Increasingly there is recognition of the area’s contemporary biological conservation values, principally through work undertaken by the Ngaanyatjarra Land Management Unit (NGLMU) in conjunction with external agencies including WA Dept of Conservation, Environment Australia, Wildlife Recovery Teams, and organizations such as the WA Herbarium and Birds Australia.

The overall impression of existing land use is one of multiple use co-existing with conservation of environmental, cultural, archaeological and recreation values.

In 1998, Ngaanyatjarra Council secured Environment Australia funding to investigate the establishment of Indigenous Protected Areas (IPA) on their land. The IPA program is a Commonwealth Government initiative funded through the Natural Heritage Trust and based on International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) guidelines (IUCN 1994).

The project adopted a staged approach in consideration of:
Development of a cooperative management agreement with the Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) for the existing Gibson Desert Nature Reserve (a draft plan has been completed, but is separate from this plan of management); and

Development of a new IPA in the Central Ranges IBRA region – the Ngaanyatjarra Lands Indigenous Protected Area (NIPA).
Declaration of the 98,129 km2 Ngaanyatjarra Lands Indigenous Protected Area is the result of five years careful consideration and discussion by Ngaanyatjarra Traditional Owners. Ngaanyatjarra Council through its Land Management Unit facilitated this process.

Neither the developmental process nor Indigenous Protected Area declaration could have occurred without Natural Heritage Trust financial assistance, or the support of staff from both Environment Australia and the Western Australian Department of Conservation.

Declaration of this, the largest protected area in Australia, is an explicit act of self determination by the Ngaanyatjarra people that demonstrates to an international audience that conservation values exist on their Lands as a consequence of indigenous land management, and that today’s Traditional Owners continue to maintain the Law and their association with their country.

Through the Ngaanyatjarra Lands Indigenous Protected Area we, Yarnangu, the Traditional Owners of this country, invite all Australians to be a part of the Ngaanyatjarra journey.


Herewith copy and paste from ANFWDC website


The ANFWDC was formed to address issues of national importance and access to the Canning Stock Route is considered to be nationally important due to its iconic status.

Since an incident involving travellers and a group of aboriginals, the Ngaanyatjarra Council circulated a letter to four wheel drive clubs regarding access to the Canning Stock Route. This letter generated some confusion as to whether permits were required and to what areas.

We have clarified that:

The stock route easement is approximately 5 kilometres wide and all of the track and most of the wells are within this easement.
The stock route easement, while falling under native title claim, remains a public access easement and no permission is required to access, travel or camp within the easement.
The tracks accessing the stock route, while falling within the native title claim, are also public access easements and these include the Talawanna Track, Kidson Track, Gary Junction Track and the Gary Highway.
Access to areas off these tracks requires permission from the Martu people and this includes popular areas such as Durba Springs, the Calvert Ranges and Lake Disappointment.
Nearly all of the wells along the stock route are sacred aboriginal sites and even though they are situated on a public access easement, activities are restricted under the Aboriginal Heritage and other Acts and travellers need to be aware of these and their implications.
New signage is to be installed along the stock route informing travellers of the restrictions that apply to travellers.
The ANFWDC emphasises the need for trip leaders planning to visit the Canning Stock Route to seek the necessary permission should they wish to travel outside the recognised CSR boundaries.

The ANFWDC appreciates the difficulty for the Martu people in managing the land without having an appropriate management plan in place, as well as the reluctance of the WA authorities to prepare such a plan. We have requested information on contacts within the WA government and have offered our support and assistance in promoting and drafting a management plan that accommodates both the traditional owners and our members.

In the absence of a management plan, we have proposed a process for our members to facilitate seeking permission. Under this proposal the ANFWDC would be the contact point for members wishing to access areas off the stock route easement and would ensure that people were provided with all of the relevant information. This proposal has not yet been agreed to nor has it been rejected.

The Australian National Four Wheel Drive Council is committed to working in harmony with all relevant land owners to maximise access to places of interest for its members. It recognises the rights of those land owners and acknowledges the obligation of its members to honour reasonable restrictions placed upon them by those land owners as well as minimising any environmental impact from their visit.

Anyone intending to travel on the Canning Stock Route and looking to access areas off the stock route easement must contact the native title unit and seek permission.

Ngaanyatjarra Council Native Title Unit

Lower Ground Floor

170 Wellington st

East Perth WA 6004

PO Box Y3439

East St Georges Terrace

Perth WA 6832

Please address correspondence to Dr Bill Kruse or Ms Lisa Maher


Updated 12/08/06

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Reply By: Footloose - Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 09:26

Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 09:26
Can anyone explain how come "Nearly all of the wells along the stock route are sacred aboriginal sites"? Is a water hole automatically a sacred site in that part of the world? Even one put in by white men ?
Or is it worded badly, and should read "nearly all of the wells were built on aboriginal sacred sites" ?

AnswerID: 226289

Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (W.A) - Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 09:34

Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 09:34
I thought it was Alfred Canning and his crew dug these wells, .....maybe he had a couple of ...er....helpers
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Follow Up By: Richard Kovac - Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 21:29

Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 21:29

maybe that it was the aboriginal people that led him to the water holes so he could dig the well?

FollowupID: 487269

Follow Up By: Footloose - Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 21:40

Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 21:40
Richard, I can perhaps see them as sites of aboriginal significance, but sacred sites ?
I'm sure any Govt. funded aboriginal archaeologist would set me right :))
FollowupID: 487277

Follow Up By: Member - Dunworkin (WA) - Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 23:30

Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 23:30
Hi Doug T, I must admit that I had a good laugh at your comment however Alfred Canning did actually use young aboriginal guys to show hime where the water holes were,but apparently he had a lot of trouble with them, something about "going walk about".



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Reply By: Ole Grizzly - Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 11:07

Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 11:07
Struth...how many generations of being born and raised in Australia does it require before an Australian is allowed to traverse his own country freely.
Damned top heavy bureaucratic bungling !!!
AnswerID: 226314

Reply By: PhilZD30Patrol - Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 13:28

Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 13:28
Hi Willem

Thanks for posting this important piece of information for our benefit.

I appreciate the statement "The Australian National Four Wheel Drive Council is committed to working in harmony with all relevant land owners to maximise access to places of interest for its members."

This is a good reason to join and support a local 4wd club that is affiliated with the The Australian National Four Wheel Drive Council.

IMHO the 4wd clubs and the National Council do a pretty good job in trying to maintain good working relationships with other groups, communities and Government Departments, some of whom don't always understand and can be intolerant of 4wders.

AnswerID: 226343

Follow Up By: kimprado - Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 20:22

Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 20:22

Who are the ANFWDC? You certainly don't represent me and I suspect, many others.

On the face of it, you appear to be adding to the problem of diminishing access, rather than improving it!

I'm getting bloody sick of our rights being removed. If any one disagrees with me, they can shove it.

FollowupID: 487254

Reply By: Im.away - Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 19:53

Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 19:53
I'd go to jail before I paid a penny for a permit to see the country I was born in. Camping fees - now that's a bit different, provided some facilities were provided in return. But permits to traverse and look - no way!

I suggest a campaign of civil disobedience. By the time they got the coppers out to where they spotted you, you'd be long gone anyway. This nonsense has to stop.
AnswerID: 226431

Reply By: lindsay - Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 21:02

Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 21:02
Reminds me of a station in the Territory that had a sacred site on it . It was a water hole that had for generations been a site that the indigeonious people visited and did their thing. Only thing they forgot was, that the waterhole was put in by a dozer owned by previous owners, they lost their claim.
It really brings in a dangerous precedent. As one who was a 4x4 member actually started a club and left due to idiots trying vehicles to the extreme and thinking that all was a competition between tojos ect. i am concerned and we all should that if you don't belong to a club you will have trouble getting access. There was a sniff of this at the last Victorian election where ,in my opinion the 4x4 associations and Govt made comments of accreditted people have access to parks. This is dangerous as it will disadvantage the vast amount of people who like me have no interests in clubs.
AnswerID: 226448

Reply By: Footloose - Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 22:19

Friday, Mar 09, 2007 at 22:19
One point of view might view such sites with permits attached not as revenue or empire building, but as an Australian cultural resource similar to the Great Barrier Reef. With potentially thousands of people visiting the CSR area each year, is it in danger of being loved to death like other places ? I'm no expert but that's one possible point of view.

Is the permit system going to be a positive thing ? Will communities/ANFWDC have the right to exclude certain non Govt... groups e.g. the press, foreign journalists, you and I perhaps, on the whim, politics and possibilities of pervading personalities ? What about people who don't join clubs?

Traditionally, permits are free and usually easily obtained through the appropriate body. Will the management model facilitate these things ?

Or will we have to pay some form of fee? If we can see some improvement in track conditions or facilities, I would suggest that a lot of people wouldn't mind. The evidence from the barge at Cape York tends to back this theory. (but I still think that the level of barge fee is daylight robbery !!!)

One thing we can be sure of. The imposition of a permit system for some places adjoining the CSR might initially be unpopular to many 4wders.

So far, I haven't seen an argument for such a permit system that I can relate to. If there is such an argument, it needs to be sold to the 4wd community at large, rather than simply decreed by "those that know best". I'm sure that the consultative processes have been ongoing for many years. But there seems to have been a certain lack of publicity outside of those involved. Perhaps such processes can't be engaging and transparent ?

In any case, the Australian cultural resource point of view might be more palatable than the "this is our place, nick off if you don't like it" impression that some appear to read into the new system.

AnswerID: 226479

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