Traditional owners build, open Yeperenye tourism and recreation trail at sacred site near Alice Springs

Nestled within the East MacDonnell Ranges a sacred Yeperenye Dreaming site is now home to a tourism trail built by traditional owners, just 10 miles from Alice Springs.

The project is the largest ever investment by a Central Australian Aboriginal group into public infrastructure.

Traditional owners reinvested $ 364,000 into the construction of the trail from the rent money paid by the Northern Territory government for the park.

The idea for the seven-kilometer walking and cycling track, connecting Anthwerrke (Emily Gap) and Atherrke (Jessie Gap) in the East MacDonnell Ranges, originated six years ago.

After many meetings and six months of construction it was officially opened to the public on Wednesday.

The official opening of the Yeperenye Trail was marked with a smoking ceremony hosted by traditional owners.(ABC News: Saskia Mabin)

“We did this trail for all of us here, for our young kids now and for our future generations.”

Indigenous woman and baby smiling at the camera in front of east macdonnell ranges
Traditional owner Lynette Ellis says the opening of the Yeperenye trail was a “proud moment” for her family. (ABC News: Saskia Mabin)

More than 30 Eastern Arrernte traditional owners built the trail entirely by hand, following the natural contours of the landscape.

“I’d like to welcome tourists to see what we’ve done with our bare hands and what we’ve created out here,” traditional owner Grant Wallace said.

They were guided and employed by two-person-run local company Tricky Tracks, which specializes in hand-built trails.

“From our perspective it’s just been a big honor for us to work with people whose land it is,” said Beth Campbell from Tricky Trails.

“It’s quite an amazing project to be a part of and hopefully it sets a precedent for how things can be done in the future.”

group of Indigenous men smiling, some wearing high-vis
Some of the 33 workers who built the Yeperenye Trail by hand. (ABC News: Saskia Mabin)

The Central Land Council, Tangentyere Council, and Parks and Wildlife NT also supported the project.

“It’s very important in terms of what the traditional owners of this area have gifted all Territorians and all Australians,” said Central Land Council CEO Les Turner.

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