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.
- Traditional owners have officially opened a new seven-kilometer walking and cycling trail in the East MacDonnell Ranges
- It’s the biggest investment into public infrastructure by a Central Australian Aboriginal group
- The project created employment and training for more than 30 local Indigenous people
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.
“We did this trail for all of us here, for our young kids now and for our future generations.”
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.”
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.
More projects on the way
The traditional owners group said they would continue to invest in projects for the public in the East MacDonnell Ranges, including signage and possibly guided tours.
“The next step for us is sitting down and really getting those stories and presenting them in a really high-class way.”