Native Title rights were recognised this week for both Limbunya Station, the childhood home of Gurindji man Vincent Lingiari, and Jinbarak, which includes the site of the historic Wave Hill Walk Off.
A formal sitting of Federal Court on Tuesday saw Justice White hand down a non-exclusive Native Title consent determination over Jinbarak, the old homestead of the famous Wave Hill Station pastoral property.
Central Land Council (CLC) lodged the Native Title application on behalf of the applicants in November 2016 after recognising potential mining interest in the area.
The Wave Hill Walk Off, led by the late Vincent Lingiari, Billy Bunter and others, kicked off the land rights movement in 1966.
Although many Aboriginal station workers were off Country, they maintained strong songlines and a connection to their ancestral Country.
Many of the older Native Title holders from the Jamangku Japuwuny, Parlakuna-Palkinykarni and Yilyilyimawu groups work on the station, along with their families.
“I was born on Wave Hill Station. It means everything to me and my family,” said Native Title holder Pauline Ryan.
“I was in the walk off in 1966. I remember that day. My stepfather, mother and grandpa were there too.
“My uncle and grandpa and grandma passed away here. We bring our young kids here to talk about their memory. I was working here when I was 10 or 11. I was a cleaner. I never went to school.”
Francine McCarthy, CLC’s Manager of Native Title, said the determination recognises Native Title holders’ rights to hunt, gather and teach on the land and waters, and to conduct cultural activities and ceremonies.
“It gives them the right to negotiate exploration and mining agreements, but unlike on Aboriginal land, they have no veto right,” she said.
Native Title holder Matthew Algy said he and his family were happy about the determination, which enables him to continue a legacy.
“It’s important to the legacy of the Old People who worked here. I’m carrying on in my father’s footsteps, he was a stockman and I am a stockman.”
“I was born on New Wave Hill Station, I’ve worked here [Wave Hill Station] like my father did,” he said.
Adding to an already historic week, Thursday saw the long-awaited Native Title recognition over Limbunya Station—childhood home of Vincent Lingiari.
The Nawurlala Parayi-Kakaru Tjutamalin and Central Limbunya land holding groups gathered at the Karungkarni Arts and Culture Centre in Kalkaringi to witness Justice White hand down the determination.
“It means that the traditional laws and customs of Native Title holders are recognised in Australian law, and they can use the area in accordance with them,” said McCarthy.
“The determination also recognises that their cultural connection to their land dates back to time immemorial.”
CLC lodged the Native Title application on behalf of the Native Title applicants in January 2017, following the successful Native Title claim over Kalkaringi.
The station was previously part of British aristocrat Lord Samuel Vestey’s cattle empire and has a landmass of 5,218 square kilometres.
In the Wave Hill Walk Off, families working on Limbunya and other Vestey-owned stations also walked off stations in protest, triggering the Aboriginal land rights movement.
Many of their families live in Kalkaringi and Daguragu today, and Native Title holders continue to access their Country for cultural and ceremonial purposes. Both stations will continue operating as cattle stations.
By Rachael Knowles