Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council Profile

29 May, 2015

The Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) is considered the richest in the network.

Fifteen years ago it sold a parcel of land, now known as Magenta Shores, for $42 million.

But within 10 years it lost almost $12 million and it went into administration.

Sean Gordon, a Barkandji and Wangkamarra man, joined Darkinjung as its CEO almost seven years ago, after the period of administration ended.

“Like any individual or any organisation that receives a lump sum of $42 million, the organisation went through some pretty steep learning curves,” he said.

He was tasked with increasing the wealth of the Local Aboriginal Land Council.

The need to grow their profits became more apparent with the increasing costs of cleaning up country.

“We’ve got millions of dollars worth of illegal dumping on our land in North Wyong – where we are a land owner, $4 million worth of illegal dumping,” he said.

“Unless something changes, where the government is going to fund us to protect and preserve our lands then we’ve got to generate income and the income that we generate will allow us to continue to protect our cultural sites,” he said.

Kelvin Johnson is the Health Safety and Environment Officer for Darkinjung LALC. It’s his job to organise the clean up.

“I located 118 piles of illegal waste, now, out of those 118 illegal piles, there’s 21 confirmed asbestos,” Mr. Johnson said.

“I’ve had estimated eight to 12 ton trucks of material being dumped in one hit. Now that contractor, that rogue operator would have been paid handsomely to dispose of that in an environmentally friendly manner,” he said.

With the rising costs of cleaning up country coupled with a Board directive not to spend below the $30 million in the bank, the Land Council had to think outside the square on how to increase its profits.

With the Central Coast population expected to grow rapidly over the next 20 years, the Land Council saw an opportunity in property development.

“The project that we’re developing right now is the Blue Haven residential development – a 109 residential lot. It’s already in a developed area so it lends itself for development,” he said.

“Out of the 109 lot, we’ll retain 10 percent, so we’ll build 11 homes for our members,” he said.

Mr Gordon says the cash asset for Darkinjung at present is a bit over $30 million but that’s expected to grow to $35 million at the end of development.

Darkinjung Planning and Development Manager Lynne Hamilton says that Darkinjung LALC have lodged a number of development applications.

“We also have planned a 99-lot manufactured estate at Halekulani and we’re looking at a commercial development in Gosford Shire and possibly a retail development down in Gosford as well,” she said.

In addition to that Sean says they’ve just had a land dealing approved by the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council to build a motorsport precinct which would then be leased to CASAR Park Motorsport for 60 years.

“What that does for us is generate an income over a 60 year period but it also allows us to retain ownership of the Land. The manufactured home estate as well. It allows us to retain ownership of the land whilst we’ll also provide accommodation.” He said.

There is no doubt Darkinjung are leading the way for economic independence, which according to Sean Gordon, is exactly what the Land Rights Act intended.

“ Look, in my own personal view, I think there needs to be a major paradigm shift.  When Land Rights was established, it was a land Rights based movement, it was about getting back compensation, getting land back for compensation for what was lost but it was also about building a strong economic base. Unfortunately, I don’t think the network has shifted far enough.” He said.

And he says the key to a successful Land Council is Good governance and transparency.

“So for us, governance, transparency, accountability and leadership are critical for the organisation. We don’t hide anything.” He said.



We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners of the lands where we work as well as across the lands we travel through. We also acknowledge our Elders past, present and emerging.

Artwork Credit: Craig Cromelin, from a painting he did titled, "4 favourite fishing holes". It is a snippet of his growing years on the Lachlan River, featuring yabby, turtle, fish and family.