Cross industry support secures future for the Karajarri people

17 Nov 2017

The purchase of the Port Smith Bird Park, near Broome, Western Australia, by the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) on behalf of the Karajarri Traditional Lands Association (KTLA) is testament to the success that collaborative, cross sector partnerships can achieve in assisting Traditional Owners secure land for economic, cultural, environmental and social benefit.  

  On Friday, 17 November, the Karajarri community and their project partners, the ILC, Ernst and Young (EY) and the Kimberley Land Council (KLC), will gather at the property to mark the occasion of the purchase of the four hectare property behind the culturally significant Port Smith lagoon area (Purnturrpurntur), 170 km south of Broome. The event will include an evening of traditional dance, music and food and will celebrate the vision to transform Karajarri country into the southern cultural gateway to the Kimberley region. 
The Bird Park, which hasn’t been an operational business since 2010, has been purchased by the ILC on behalf of the KTLA to establish the ‘Karajarri Tourism Hub and Cultural Base’ to provide tourism and land management training and employment opportunities and expand the Karajarri Ranger Program.

Chairman of KTLA Thomas (Dooley) King said Karajarri will continue to work in collaboration with current partners, such as the ILC, EY, KLC, Morrgul and Tourism WA, while seeking additional investment partners to create a vibrant cultural hub for visitors.

“We will have Karajarri rangers based at the Bird Park and they’ll give tourists a warm welcome to our country,” Mr King said.

“Visitors will have the opportunity to become involved in Karajarri storytelling sessions, dances, and to join us for on-country cultural tours.

“The area around the Bird Park has a significant modern history. The early pearlers had a base on our country in the late 1800s and many Karajarri people were black-birded to work as pearl divers. This period was a dark time for our people, we were enslaved and lost our traditional lands. KTLA is committed to following through on our old people’s wishes to get back control of Karajarri country,” Mr King said.

KTLA will also use the Bird Park as a base for marine scientists conducting research on Karajarri country and to manage visitation in a culturally and environmentally appropriate way.  

Over the next three years, the ILC will work with the KTLA board to officially hand back the title to the land.

ILC Chairman Eddie Fry said, “The ILC investment on behalf of Karajarri signifies our commitment to working with Indigenous landholders to maximise the potential of their land and assets within the Indigenous estate.

In collaboration with the project partners, we look forward to providing support, expertise and mentoring in the next three years ahead to ensure Karajarri can take full advantage of the economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits afforded to them through this strategic land purchase.”

The success of the cross sector investment model serves as a call to action to other government agencies and corporate and philanthropic donors to invest in the vision of Traditional Owner groups across Australia and work together to effect real change in the lives of Indigenous Australians.

EY Partner, Bill Farrell said, “The team at EY have been both inspired and enriched having worked with the Karajarri over the past three years on this important project. From our very first visit to Port Smith we experienced something very special; the land, the people, the history and the stories.

“To see the vision come to fruition is a proud moment for all those involved, and we are honoured to have played our part.  We will continue to support the Karajarri and consistent with our purpose of building a better working world support all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and empower Indigenous prosperity.” 

The Port Smith Bird Park acquisition follows the recent ILC hand over of land to Traditional Owners including cattle property Kooreelah (1044ha), near Casterton, Victoria to the Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation and Kings Run (338ha) near the Arthur River to the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania.


Acquisition Celebration: 3.30pm-6pm, Port Smith Bird Park, Lot 129 Port Smith Road, La Grange. The Port Smith Bird Park property approximately 150km (1.5 hours) south of Broome. The turn off for the Port Smith Bird Park is off the Great Northern Highway, down the unsealed Port Smith Road towards the Caravan Park and lagoon.  Please note there is very limited phone coverage in this area.

For ILC media information, please contact: 
Peter Keough | P: 08 8100 7106 | M: 0409 090 852

For KTLA media information and interviews, please contact:
P: 08 9192 8430

For more information, please contact the ILSC by clicking Contact Us

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