New water supply strengthening station’s opportunities

16 Jan 2024

Out on the Gulf of Carpentaria’s coastal waters, sits a rare treasure. It’s here, where a remote tourist attraction called Seven Emu Station is based.

Seven Emu comprises 209,200 ha of land on Garawa Country and is home to Senior Garawa man Frank Shadforth, who has worked on the property’s station his whole life with his family.

The station is also the base for two acclaimed Youth Training and Work Pathways Camp programs, which provide residency and mentorship for at-risk Aboriginal youths.

These programs expose at risk-youths to training, work experience and employment opportunities through the property’s cattle enterprise, eco-tourism business, and booming bush food enterprise.

However, these operations rely on the availability of safe water – something the station was previously lacking, leaving Frank and his family to rely on a seasonal water supply that was pumped from the Robinson River.

Not only did this pose a safety issue, but it had the potential to restrict a range of activities held on Seven Emu as well as shorten its tourist season.

Fortunately, this risk was avoided – with a new bore and solar pump being installed on the property, following more than $76,000 of funding from the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC).

The bore will provide year-round clean water for the station’s visitors, allowing them to stay on Country over multiple nights. This will only boost its tourism numbers.

This is a major milestone for the Shadforths – a fourth generation family whose continuing tradition keeps their Garawa culture alive.

Frank and his family are eager to share their Indigenous knowledge and skills – not only with the youth campers – but with non-Indigenous people too.

“The bore will prevent the restrictions on all our activities on the property and help to run our business more effectively,” said Mr Shadforth.

ILSC Group Chief Executive Officer, Joe Morrison, said the new bore is an important addition to the Shadforth family’s ability to operate enterprises on their Country.

“First Nations peoples are the rightful owners of Country. Seeing the Seven Emu Station team achieve their aspirations for their land is what it’s all about,” said Mr Morrison.

“Everything the ILSC does is to serve First Nations peoples and this story is a clear example of our organisation’s commitment to achieving this.”

The new bore will enhance Seven Emu’s growing bushfoods enterprise – which for the past two years – has seen traditional medicines being shipped to southern-based restaurants within Australia.

Seven Emu Station was purchased in 1953, by Frank’s father, Willie, who was one of the first known Aboriginal people to buy a pastoral lease.

The property is located on the Savannah Way in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Territory.

Senior Garawa man, Frank Shadforth
Mr Shadforth on Country
Seven Emu Station staff pumping water

Image credit: Chaz De La Coeur of the NT Government Indigenous Pastoral Program who, in conjunction with Steve Robertson, assisted with project management of the new water supply. 

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