The Taroo Lands are set to be returned the Barkandji mob in Far Western NSW by the New South Wales Government.
The Taroo Lands are the former Lake Victoria, Wangumma and Moorna State Forests in Far Western New South Wales. The Lands back on to the Murray River along the border between New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council Chairperson, Cr Craig Cromelin said the return of the Lands would not just benefit Aboriginal people but also the wider community.
“It’s likely that the return of the Lands to Aboriginal ownership will improve public access to areas that have been restricted for many years,” Cr Cromelin said.
“NSWALC agrees with the Taroo Negotiating Committee and its Chairperson, Gerald Quayle that opening up access to the Lands and their river frontage can boost environmental and cultural tourism in the area.”
Cr Cromelin said it was disappointing that some sections of the community, including the Wentworth Shire Council, had sought to spread fears about the return of the Lands.
“It is simply not true to suggest, as the Shire Council has tried to do that public access to fishing spots will be restricted by Aboriginal ownership,” he said.
“The Barkandji people know what it’s like to have their country taken and access to the places they love denied. They don’t want to do that to anyone else.
“That’s why they will show sensitivity and respect in the development of the management plan that will take place before the Lands are returned, Cr Cromelin said.
He urged local people and the Wentworth Shire Council to participate cooperatively in the development of management plan for the Lands under Aboriginal ownership.