Thursday, 31 March 2022
ALMOST 600 hectares of land west of Armidale has been returned to Aboriginal owners, under a joint management agreement with the State Government announced today by Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall, Environment Minister James Griffin and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Franklin.
Mr Marshall said the site, formerly known as Mount Yarrowyck Nature Reserve, had been returned to the Anaiwan and Armidale traditional owners to manage in partnership with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
“The Anaiwan and Armidale people have been waiting a long time for this transfer, and it’s with great pride and satisfaction that I announce it today.” Mr Marshall said.
“As part of the transfer, the name of the site has been changed to Bulagaranda Aboriginal Area, in recognition of its heritage and importance to the Anaiwan and Armidale people.
“Bulagaranda has immense cultural significance for the traditional owners, and this process prioritises both the protection of cultural heritage and forges partnerships between traditional owners and the NSW Government.”
Bulagaranda Aboriginal Area is a 586 hectare site located about 30 kilometres west of Armidale, featuring important rock art.
Through this agreement, the Anaiwan and Armidale Local Aboriginal Land Councils hold the land on behalf of the registered Aboriginal owners.
Minister Franklin said this was another historic agreement between Traditional Owners and the NSW Government.
“Today is a momentous day for the Anaiwan and Armidale people who have been custodians of the land for generations,” Mr Franklin said.
“Handing back ownership of Bulagaranda gives Traditional Owners the control of local decision-making and importantly ensures their physical and spiritual connection to Country remains.”
Mr Marshall said public access to the reserve remained the same, with the local community encouraged to enjoy both the natural and cultural values of the site.
“The government is recognising the cultural significance of the area, while ensuring the local community gets to enjoy everything this beautiful landscape has to offer,” Mr Marshall said.
“The name Bulagaranda is derived from words in the Anaiwan language referring to the Turkey dreaming that is associated with the landscape in and surrounding the park.
“The National Parks and Wildlife Service is working with the Aboriginal community on a ceremony in the coming months to recognise the return of the area to its Aboriginal owners.”
One of the Aboriginal owners Cheryl Kitchener has welcomed the joint management arrangement.
“When I received the news that Bulagaranda had finally been returned to our community, I was so overcome with emotion, I cried tears of joy,” Ms Kitchener said.
“The realisation that this special cultural place was finally going to be managed by Aboriginal owners will be one of the most important things in my life I’ve been involved in.
“It is only a very small part of our country, but I am proud and honoured to have been working beside other Aboriginal owners and the Local Aboriginal Land Councils in achieving this outcome.”
A board of management will be established for the park, with the majority of registered Aboriginal owners to be responsible.
Bulagaranda Aboriginal Area is 25km north-west of Uralla on Thunderbolt’s Way and includes an Aboriginal art site.