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Engaging Traditional Owners

We recognise and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's ownership, rights and enduring relationship with their lands and waters.

Whenever we buy or manage a property, we seek to engage Traditional Owners to ensure access, share knowledge about land management and to learn more about cultural values and sites that may be present.

Below are just a few of the groups we work with at our reserves around Australia.

Map of Traditional Owner groups engaged with our reserves.
Sarah Eccles"It's a great experience when we're working and learning together with the rangers, Elders and community on country. It's inspiring to see the pride the rangers have in protecting their country."

– Sarah Eccles is our Indigenous Partnership Officer for South Eastern Australia and descendent of Wathaurung people from the coastal country, west of Port Phillip Bay, Victoria.

Adnyamathanha people

The Adnyamathanha people are the Traditional Owners of land extending from the far north Flinders Ranges in South Australia to Boolcoomatta Station Reserve near Broken Hill. In 1998 the Nantawarrina Indigenous Protected Area, which covers 58,000 hectares, was the first IPA to be declared in the country. The Adnyamathanha peoples' vision and leadership has inspired many other groups to establish IPAs.

Nantawarrina IPA rangers during a healthy country planning workshop. Photo Karen Moore.

Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara people

The Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara Traditional Owners' country includes Bon Bon Station Reserve. We're working together to survey and protect culturally significant places and to develop an Indigenous Land Use Agreement. This will set out the ongoing relationship between us, how we work together in managing country, and how Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara people will exercise their native title rights.

Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara on-country visit to Bon Bon. Photo by Julia Harris.

Bidjara people

In 2004 Bidjara people returned to the spectacular gorges of Carnarvon Reserve, in central Queensland, for the first time in decades. Before we purchased it they'd been denied access, but have since reconnected with special places that carry the stories of their ancestors.

“There were caves with rock art, etchings, engravings and ochre pits ranging from deep purple to crimson red,” says Sarah Eccles.

We began working together to look after this special land and protect culturally significant sites. 

The Paint Pots ochre site at Carnarvon. Photo Peter Mills.

Badimaya people

Charles Darwin Reserve is within the traditional lands of the Badimaya people. Ninghan Station, which adjoins the reserve to the south, is owned and managed by the Bell family and the Pindiddy Aboriginal Corporation. In 2004 they successfully nominated 48,000 hectares of the station as an Indigenous Protected Area, that they manage for conservation.

We work closely with the Bell family to protect the spirit of the land. We collaborate on feral animal management, fire control work, and ecological monitoring.

Gabhida or rock water-hole on Charles Darwin Reserve. Photo Richard McLellan.

Budjiti people

The Budjiti are the Traditional Owners of Naree Station on the Cuttaburra Creek north-west of Bourke. Since we bought Naree, Budjiti elder Phil Eulo and his family have been helping us understand the property's history, natural values and cultural connections. They've helped with our environmental and heritage assessments and with conservation planning. We're tremendously pleased to have the Budjiti so intimately involved.

More from Phil Eulo on SBS show Living Black >>

Dja Dja Wurrung people

Nardoo Hills Reserves in Central Victoria are part of the traditional lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung. Together we've undertaken a cultural asset mapping and management project. It revealed artefacts such as cutting instruments and clay cooking balls. Scar trees, the bark of which was used for ceremonial purposes and for carrying food, were also found. We're now protecting these important assets.

Noongar people

Noongar traditional lands extend across the Gondwana Link properties in Western Australia, including Chereninup Creek Reserve. Elders have been involved in cultural heritage assessments as part of a broader regional project (the Linkage Project).

More: Taking down the fences (ABC Radio National).

Malleefowl. Photo Sharon Gillam.

We also work in partnerships with Aboriginal landowner groups to help them to plan and deliver conservation outcomes on their lands.

It's the lands, winds and waters of the first Australians that we all share today.