*All pics Matt Newton, http://www.matthewnewton.com.au/
First published October 9
The return of the late, great Geoff King’s takayna property to Aboriginal ownership is both an historic moment and an important step towards ensuring Geoff’s legacy of care for that extraordinary, wild coastline lives on.
Geoff King gave his life to protecting the culturally rich landscape his family long owned from damage and vandals, often putting himself at personal risk to do so.
He was also always happy to share Kings Run, telling stories to fortunate guests into the night as Tasmanian devils fought over carcasses he’d collected outside his little shack on the coast.
Kings Run is now back in Aboriginal hands as a result of a dedicated philanthropic effort to ensure its rightful ownership and protection.
Sadly, the only significant lands that have been returned under the Liberals have been done so privately, with the Premier and Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Will Hodgman, giving little back but empty promises to ‘reset the relationship’ with Tasmania’s Aboriginal people.
While we celebrate the return of Kings Run, we also need to acknowledge there is so much unfinished business with this island’s first people.
The return of lands is critical to reconciliation and, given his failure to do so over the past three and a half years, we urge the Premier to make a statement about whether he’ll restart land returns if reelected in the next term.
• ABC: Wotif founder’s donation seals the deal to return Kings Run to Aboriginal owners A significant piece of the Tarkine on Tasmania’s north-west is to be handed to its traditional Aboriginal owners following a large donation from the founder of the Wotif travel website, Graeme Wood. Kings Run, the 338-hectare stretch between the Arthur River and Marrawah, has been purchased from previous owner Geoff King by the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania (ALCT) through a funding arrangement. The Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC), the Bob Brown Foundation, the Tasmania Land Conservancy and the donation of over $325,000 from Mr Wood all formed the funds needed to purchase the property from the late Mr King, who had expressed a desire for the land to return to Aboriginal ownership before his death in 2013 …
• Peter Whish-Wilson: Kings Run return a seminal moment for the future of takayna On behalf of the Australian Greens, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, who is attending today’s ceremony, welcomes the return of Kings Run to Aboriginal ownership and congratulates everyone involved. Senator Whish-Wilson said, “The return of Kings Run to Aboriginal ownership and management is an exceptional achievement on so many levels. Not only does it provide an example of what meaningful redress for two centuries of dispossession for local Aboriginal people can look like, but also has achieved enduring protection for land of incredible natural and cultural heritage values. “Today is special for many reasons, not least because it is about action and leadership, shown by the community, individuals and organisations. This leaderships sends a powerful signal for others to follow … “Whilst some politicians are seeking to divide the community over a 4wd track that puts at risk priceless cultural heritage, the hand-back of Kings Run shows another vision of what can be achieved through cooperation and mutual respect. “Eco-tourism and cultural interpretation at Kings Run (together with Preminghana) can provide years of economic opportunity for the local Aboriginal people. takayna is a wondrous landscape that could rival all of Tasmania’s tourism experiences, especially for the cultural heritage aspects …
Read Jenny Weber (the Bob Brown Foundation) on the handover. This is the official statement …
Celebration as Kings Run land returns to Aboriginal ownership
Indigenous cultural sites and several endangered animal species will be protected in north western Tasmania with the purchase of Kings Run station.
The Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania (ALCT) bought Kings Run following a funding arrangement with the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC), the Bob Brown Foundation and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy.
Kings Run is a culturally and environmentally significant property of 338ha near the entry to the Tarkine wilderness area.
There are 10 confirmed cultural sites, a further 22 on the adjacent coastal reserve, and habitat for threatened species, including the Tasmanian Devil, Orange-bellied Parrot, and Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle.
The property contains sites of immense cultural heritage and has outstanding environmental values with little visible impact from European invasion.
Additional Aboriginal interpretation of the area – rich with hut depressions, middens, fish traps and seal hides – will aid cross-cultural understanding and a deeper appreciation of pakana culture, past and present.
The ILC granted $680,000 to ALCT, while the Bob Brown Foundation (BBF) and Tasmanian Land Conservancy (TLC) secured $385,000 from donations to enable ALCT to buy the property. Graeme Wood made a leadership gift of over $325 000 to secure Kings Run.
Indigenous rangers with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) will manage Kings Run as an extension of the nearby Preminghana Indigenous Protected Area.
ILC Chairperson Mr Eddie Fry said working collaboratively with a range of partners had been a great process and has led to lasting outcomes for Tasmanian Indigenous people.
“Acquiring Kings Run increases the Indigenous estate in Tasmania and provides the Aboriginal community access to what is land of significant cultural and heritage value”, he said.
“I’d also like to thank the vendor, Margo Jones, for offering ALCT first right of refusal on the sale.”
ALCT Chairman Clyde Mansell said the Kings Run purchase will help the Aboriginal community re-establish its place in the broader West Coast Cultural Landscape.
“Kings Run provides a base for interpretation of our links specific to the local area and that of the takayna region,” Mr Mansell said.
“The partnership between ALCT, the ILC, the TLC and the Bob Brown Foundation is an example of how like-minded bodies can achieve meaningful outcomes that redress the dispossession of land of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community,” Mr Mansell said.
“In keeping with the legacy of the late Geoff King of ensuring the environmental and cultural values of the property are respected, the ALCT will delegate management of the property to the Tasmania Aboriginal Centre which has great experience in managing culturally significant sites and has been active in looking after the property,” Mr Mansell said.
“The Tasmanian Land Conservancy is delighted to once again join forces with the Indigenous Land Corporation, Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania and the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, this time with the added support of the Bob Brown Foundation, to protect this natural and Aboriginal cultural icon now and for future generations to come,” Stuart Barry, President Tasmanian Land Conservancy said.
“Partnerships like this leverage on the generosity and commitment of government, the community and individuals who come together from all walks of life for the common purpose of preserving land for nature and Aboriginal culture in Tasmania,” Mr Barry said.
“I reckon Geoff King would be very happy that this magnificent 500 hectares, which he did so much to protect and have others enjoy, is now back in the hands of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community,” Bob Brown said.