Diana’s Basin in north east Tasmania returned to Aboriginal ownership

13 Dec 2021

Diana’s Basin, an ecologically sensitive and culturally significant parcel of land in north east Tasmania, has been returned to Aboriginal ownership.

The acquisition of the 195-hectare property was financed through a partnership between the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC), Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy (TLC).

More than 70% of the property, which is situated near the coastal town of St Helens, is covered in old growth forest and is home to at least three known threatened species.

Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre Chairperson, Graeme Gardner said having the property back under Aboriginal ownership would enable Aboriginal people to strengthen their connection to the country.

“This whole coastal area of north east Lutruwita, from St Helens all the way to Musselroe and beyond is the home of our old people, our direct ancestors,” Mr Gardner said.

“We can see their lives written all over this land. We can rejoice with their amazing ability to live securely in this environment for millennia as well as weep for the tragedy that saw them exiled from the land of their birth to die in pitiful circumstances and their graves robbed for the curiosity of the invaders after their death.”

Diana’s Basin is the first landholding in north east Tasmania that has been returned to Aboriginal ownership.

Many members of Tasmania’s Aboriginal community are descended from Diana’s Basin, which is also the home of Tasmania’s only surviving Aboriginal language.

Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation Group CEO Joe Morrison said: “We are very pleased that by supporting the purchase of this significant property local people will have greater access and connection to their country.

“Diana’s Basin is the latest in a significant list of properties that the ILSC has supported the purchase of on behalf of Indigenous Corporations in Tasmania, with around 19,000 hectares totalling 10 separate properties returned to Aboriginal people to own and manage.

“If this property had not been returned to Aboriginal ownership, it would still have been sold, but with uncertainty over future access and how cultural and environmental values would be managed – if at all.

“Acquiring Diana’s Basin will directly increase the Indigenous estate, provide access to land rich in cultural history, facilitate community use, and enable TAC to manage and protect the significant heritage value of the land.”

The ILSC has also provided additional investment to the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre to enable Diana’s Basin to be managed by the TAC ranger team, giving local people the opportunity to be employed on country.

Tasmanian Land Conservancy CEO, James Hattam said the TLC deeply valued the opportunity to once again join with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation to protect an important site of natural and Aboriginal cultural value.

“The TLC has been aware of the important natural values of this property for many years, and we are delighted to have finally achieved this great conservation outcome,” Mr Hattam said.

“We thank our supporters for contributing to the purchase and the local community’s dedication and commitment to protecting these critical places and we are proud to partnered with like organisations to help preserve this land for perpetuity.”

An event was held on country on Friday 10th December to celebrate the return of country.A small ceremony was held to mark the occasion with contributing partners addressing the crowd of more than 50 Aboriginal people who attended from throughout Tasmania to mark the event.

Image credit: Tasmanian Land Conservancy andAndy Townsend.

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