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Decades on, Wave Hill Walk Off champion Vincent Lingiari's legacy lives on for Gurindji Traditional Owners

Jarred Cross -

Some 66 years on from the Wave Hill Walk Off the influence and self-determination brought by Vincent Lingiari is still felt in the communities around Kalkarindji.

August 23, 1966 marked a line in the sand.

Two-hundred Aboriginal workers, men, women and children joined Mr Lingiari to stage the Gurindji strike, protesting living and working conditions at Wave Hill cattle station and stripped ownership of their country under the Crown.

It took nine years for land rights to be recognised, culminating in then-Prime Minister Gough Whitlam's symbolic pouring of soil into Mr Lingiari's hands setting the framework for Native Title claims.

Decades on Gurindji Aboriginal Corporation community liaison and Traditional Owner Rob Roy says Mr Lingiari's actions are remembered "only with too much pride".

"We're keeping up his legacy, and the children and men and woman that walked off with him," Mr Roy said.

"The reason why we've got the Gurindji Aboriginal Corporation is because of him, because we're trying to continue part of his legacy."

GAC have worked to improve outcomes and the lives of the local community.

Among advocating for improved housing, community facilities and family support services the group backs economic enterprise and oversees culturally specific heritage preservation initiatives, like the national heritage listed Wave Hill walk-off track.

Each year the invitation to celebrate Mr Lingiari and his accompanying elders from 1966 is shared to all corners of the nation.

The pilgrimage to commemorate the birth of land rights brings thousands to Kalkarindji for a calendar of music, sport and cultural celebration at Freedom Day Festival.

"Doing all this preparation for the festival and all that sort of stuff, we do that with pride because we know when we want to do all this it's all for those old men and women that have gone before us," Mr Roy said.

"Trying to preserve our culture and pass it on to new generations.

"A way of sharing our culture with other communities right across the territory and right across Australia."

The 2022 line-up is headlined by singer-songwriter Paul Kelly.

Mr Roy said he looks forward to his performance of From Little Things Big Things Grow, co-wrote with Murri musician Kev Carmody.

The song pays homage to Mr Lingiari's successes.

Freedom Day Festival is hosted annually in late August, in line with the handback of Gurindji land and walk-off on the 16th and 23rd respectively.

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