Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

High Hopes for Uluru's People

Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

High Hopes for Uluru's People

Article excerpt

ULURU, NT- If the hopes of Uluru's traditional Aboriginal owners are realised, many tourists may get the indigenous experience they have been looking for.

Despite 25 years of owning Ayers Rock, the Mutijulu community and others in central Australia continued to live in poverty and received a fraction of the benefits from tourism. Now, they hope this is about to change.

This week the community celebrated the 1985 handback of Uluru with speeches and inma, or traditional dancing, before a crowd of tourists, park workers and media.

The ceremony hosted by the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park board of management was largely spurred on by the women, who wanted to share their culture through the songs, stories and dances about the rock.

The occasion was a signpost to the changes they want to see in tourism at Uluru, particularly increased cultural involvement.

Tony Charters, the convenor of the Global Eco Asia-Pacific Tourism Conference, said it was time for Australia to reinvigorate indigenous tourism, despite the scores of indigenous-owned and operated tourism ventures here.

One guidebook, Australia Walkabout, lists more than 370 indigenous Australian tourism adventures.

But for some reason these tours - apart from the award-winning Anangu Tours - have not flourished at Uluru.

Realising that many Aboriginal people wouldn't benefit from the High Court's Mabo (No 2) decision and the Native Title Act, the Federal Government set up the ILC and the Indigenous Land Fund in 1995, partly to help those unable to demonstrate the continuous association needed to prove native title.

Among other properties, the ILC owns Home Valley and two neighbouring stations, Kurunjie and Durack River Station, in the Kimberley in Western Australia.

Harry Wilson, chair of the Uluru Kata Tjuta board of management, says they welcome tourists but don't feel a lot has been done in the past 25 years.

"So we're looking forward to sharing and also caring and conserving this place and sharing it with national and international tourists."

He said the board was working with traditional owners and the tourism industry to start up new businesses. …

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