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    Do your own Internet research on Native Title, especially in WA, you might be surprised at what a large industry it has become.......

Martu & Birriliburu Determined Areas
Click the link for official Native Title Applications and Determination Areas maps - National, State and Regional


November 2018

    Just a quick update - we had an email from another group who were refused entry into the APY Lands in August of this year. They also had prior approval to visit Kalka / Ninuku Arts and received the following replies when they applied for their permits. Just to be clear, all they wanted was a few hours to go in from the border of WA on the Gunbarrel Hwy 15 kms to Kalka and west back out again.

    This is the reply they received from the Permits Officer, on the same day they put in their permit applications, which means it did not appear to go through the usual channels i.e. deliberation by the Executive Council at a scheduled meeting.

Good afternoon ........,
Thankyou for your permit application . I hereby confirm your permit application request has not been approved.
We do not do 4wd Club through the Apy Lands as it is not set up for it. In the future it may be allowed but not at this stage.
And we do not allow transit permits. I am very sorry .Thankyou

    The group then applied to Richard King, at that time the APY Lands General Manager, to try and understand the decision. This was the reply they received from him.....

Hi ........,
We take breaches of the APY Land rights Act seriously.
Sorry no traveling through the lands unless you are a service provider. We have had people enter without our knowledge which has caused the Traditional owners grief.
APY do not approved tourist visits. If you enter the lands without approval you will be fined $2000 and $ 500 for each day after. These fines are linked directly to Services SA and will stop you registering your car of renewing your licences until the fines are paid.
Mr Richard King
General Manager APY land
Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara

    This resulted in two instances of failed income opportunities for the APY Lands ($22 per person for the permits) and the Ninuku Artists who would otherwise have sold paintings. As I have said, Mick & I have been successful in getting permits for years for the APY Lands, and along with our participants spent many thousands of dollars in the process, and it has not adversely impacted on anyone. I cannot understand their statements that they are not set up for transit travellers, which is in effect what those of us are who want to visit the Arts Centres; especially for this group who were only going in for 15 kms for a few hours. At least in our case they didn't threaten us with fines if we didn't obey (something that was added to yet another group who wanted transit through the corner of the lands, these particular folk having spent most of their lives working for the Aboriginal people including those within the APY Lands).

    All was not completely lost this year however, we had one excellent tour organised by a contact within the Central Lands Council which has given us heart. For my write-up please see my Desert Update for 2018 - Desert Updates.

Connie Beadell
November 2018



April 2018

    Just a quick update as Mick & I prepare for our 2018 desert season. This is a copy of a post I put on the Len Beadell Facebook page on April 23rd -:

Beadell Tours update - Connie Beadell & Mick Hutton want to let everyone know that their Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands permit application for their May "Gunbarrel 60th Anniversary" tour was denied (the SA leg of the Gunbarrel Highway, also know as the Giles Mulga Park Road), and that is after many years of successful and profitable visits through the APY including September 2017 where they visited Ninuku Arts with the group buying many wonderful Aboriginal paintings. Connie & Mick also performed maintenance on one of Len's signs (Connie's replica) at the north end of the Kintore Avenue, all with the support of the newly elected, and fully Aboriginal, Executive Council. The recent application went in at the end of October 2017 and they were only told of the permit refusal on the 16th April. The reasons given were -: "Executive board met last week and looked at your permit applications. Unfortunately they have said no to both applications due to the amount of roadworks that are happening on the APY Lands and also that APY Lands is not ready for tours to happen on them."

    We already had permission to revisit the Ninuku Arts Centre on the Lands, but despite this our permit was refused. Mick & I and all of our fellow travellers have, during many visits, spent many thousands of dollars on artwork at Kalka alone (let alone other expenditure at community stores along the way, not to mention the cost of the permits themselves at $22 per person), a fact of which the artists and some of the managers are fully aware. To be refused permits after Arts Centre approval is highly unusual and indicative of continuing & severe factional unrest in the Lands and (alleged) ongoing corruption. This is all to the detriment of those Aboriginal Artists and community members who are supportive of the direct tourist trade. Unfortunately, the Executive Council have the supreme authority to issue or deny permit applications; I guess we have been lucky to have been supported by the previous Councils as long as we have, other would-be tourists have not been so lucky. Trawl around the Internet and you'll find many articles and Facebook posts that will enlighten you as to the state of unrest in the APY Lands before you treat this as sour grapes on our part.

    I guess permit woes are fairly small in comparison to the rest of the issues within the APY Lands (the Traditional Owners own freehold title to over 103,000 square kms of SA), but they are rather important to those of us interested in supporting Aboriginal art & culture, those interested in history, be it white or indigenous, or just those of us who want to admire the magnificent scenery.

Connie Beadell & Mick Hutton
Beadell Tours, April 2018


    I would like to add the following now, to give you a few facts and figures -:

APY Lands - specific facts, stats from 2016 Census, with the usual explanatory notes as per Census website -:

2015-16 Australia

    National & State Government expenditure - It seems that direct expenditure for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders was about 6-7% of total direct expenditure for all Australians with A&TSI people making up about 2.8% of the Australian population. A total of about $33.4 billion was spent for A&TSI people nationally compared with $522.7 billion for non-indigenous. Twice the amount of $$ were spent per person for Indigenous over the non-Indigenous (see the   Indigenous Expenditure Report 2017). The report puts the latter down to a greater need and the younger age profile, as well as the higher cost of providing services due to remoteness and Indigenous services that are provided in addition to many services provided for all Australians. Remember, that is only direct expediture explained as that provided directly to individuals, non-government service providers and local governments. It includes Aboriginal specific expenditure as well as their share of what the report calls "mainstream expenditure". It does not include governmental money transfers or capital works for example.

    Back to our case, just to be clear, our permits were not denied for cultural or ceremonial reasons. We have only the best wishes for the Aboriginal people of this country; the Old People that we have met on our travels are mostly wonderful, funny and fascinating people with many stories to tell. Continual debates by protesters about the justness or otherwise of colonisation is, in our opinion, extremely unhelpful in moving forward to unite Australians under one banner. For those dissenters to imply that but for the First Fleet, Aboriginals would have still been enjoying the fruits of lone habitation of this land is, in our opinion, extremely misguided. Its occurrence was inevitable and has been happening all over the world since time began. In our case it could have been by folks a lot worse than the British if you are truly honest. Also, do some research on the true nature and conditions of those early Aboriginal people (not the sanitised versions of history that are appearing lately) and you will come to better appreciate just how harsh and perilous conditions were for them, and what they did to cope (rightly or wrongly). They deserve our admiration and respect, epecially from those of us who have experienced the extreme remote desert first hand. Surely the $33.4 billion dollars are doing something to improve life for the current generations of Indigenous who, just like everyone else, can't agree on their way forward (I am glad I am not on a committee to try and hash out a national treaty). Indigenous affairs have turned into an emotive, political and multi billion+ dollar industry and we feel greatly for those who are just trying to move forward and take control of their own fate the old-fashioned way, including with tourism.

Connie Beadell & Mick Hutton
25 April 2018


November 2015

Further permit updates can be found on our "Handy Links" page
but here are a few in a nutshell (these are for your information only, we aren't necessarily endorsing them.....)



    Please read the articles below to get a feel for what has been occurring in the desert world.

    In the meantime I have a few main updates for you in case you don't already know (links to permit applications you will find on our Handy Links page).
    The Anne Beadell Highway has become a rather expensive route to tour.......

   4WD touring is an ever-changing world that is hard to keep up with these days, even for those of us dealing with it every year......



    Mick posted the following article on the ExplorOz website in 2010. If you would like to read some of the responses posted please click the link  ExplorOz  and after clicking "Forum" type 77730 in "Thread Find".



    By now most serious desert travellers are aware of the Martu Native Title Determined Area. This is the area that has caused a bit of a fuss over the last few years for those wanting to travel the very well known Canning Stock Route and visit other sites of interest such as Calvert Range. Currently for travelling the CSR between Well 15 & Well 40 a permit is required which is available over the internet for a fee. That’s good news for Canning travellers. However the news is not so good for those travelling the other famous desert roads, such as Len Beadell’s network and the "Oil Roads" within these Determined Areas.

    ( P.S. Nov 2012 Update -: Permits now incorporate the entire length of the CSR. Please see our Handy Links page for links to read more. )

    In a nutshell a Native Title Determined Area is country given/handed back to the original occupants. Quite simply these Determined Areas are similar to freehold the same as your house, farm or business premises.

    Again in a nutshell, there is a clause in the Determined Area fine print which allows travel on or through Public Access areas. For desert travellers that means the major roads (but only those made public prior to 1993 I believe). Faint tracks & seismic lines do not fall under this Public Access category. As an example, Len Beadell’s Callawa Track has been deregistered as a road. No longer is it public access.

    News Flash;

        If you wish to deviate off any of those major roads by more than say 50 metres then you will need a permit from the people responsible for that particular Determined Area.

    This may be old news to some but please read the rest of this short article.

    The easiest way to grasp what I’m getting at is to get a copy of the latest Hema Great Desert Tracks North West & South West maps, 5th edition. Open them up and have a good look at the Determined Areas represented on those two maps. (You may not be aware that the entire length of the Canning is now within Determined Areas and more than that as well). Now anywhere within those areas you will need a permit to leave the road if you wish to comply with the law.

    Connie Beadell & I run a small tag-a-long business that of course specialises in the western deserts. This year to comply with the rules we applied for permission to visit Warri Site & Ngarinarri Claypan off the Eagle Highway. We were refused permission to go to either place. Another permit to visit Veevers Crater & Patience Well off the Gary Highway was also lodged. This resulted in a response asking us to "defer our trip" as the people responsible for that area have not yet formulated a policy for travellers wanting to visit these sites.

    I am not trying to lay blame or put people offside. What I am trying to do is make folk aware that access to places of interest that have been visited by travellers for decades in these new Determined Areas is now illegal without permission, which appears to be pretty hard to obtain going through the correct channels.

    Have a long hard think about this issue. If you have wanted to see these places you may have left your trip a little late.

Mick Hutton, Beadell Tours    


    Connie's thoughts

    Mick wrote this recently following our round of permit approvals and rejections relating to our 2010 season preparations. We became aware just how much of WA is now under full Aboriginal Native Title (and it is still growing), which means selected areas are now Aboriginal land for the Aboriginal owners to use to the exclusion of all others if that is their wish (whatever that means..). As far as we understand it, you are supposed to apply to the relevant Prescribed Body Corporate for permit approval to do anything other than drive along what is still an official public access road; they are the body that represent and manage the rights of the native title holders for a particular area under the Native Title Act 1993. PBC's are not necessarily made up of Traditional Owners but their role is to act as their liaison. Some areas are very welcoming of visitors but some contain folk who apparently are not (at least those involved in the managing) and the reasons given for permit rejections often do not seem to stand up to close scrutiny. Finding someone to discuss these issues with is not as easy as it should be either. As I have mentioned in my Desert Update from November 2009 (link above) this has made true-blue trips of exploration and discovery virtually impossible, let alone cross-country Expeditions like ours.

   To change tack a little, I recently read through a document titled "listening looking learning : An Aboriginal Tourism Strategy for Western Australia 2006 - 2010" , basically aimed at the promotion of indigenous tourism opportunities but it does also include references to non-indigenous tourism business participation also. I learned that there is an organisation called WAITOC (Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Committee) that are a not for profit group formed to represent Aboriginal tourism ventures of which there are many members listed on their website. From our perspective it all sounds very good in theory, and may work well for the larger centres, but for the smaller more remote communities that we deal with? Mick & I have attempted to include direct Aboriginal participation in our tours but it is difficult in the more remote regions, mainly because even relaxed-paced tours such as ours do not have the time to wait for someone to accompany us on an outing (regardless of any arrangements made in advance and I'm talking days here). Another reason is that the elders with the knowledge are often uncomfortable speaking to a group of strangers. If you get them one on one though as a rule we have found that they are wonderful people, proud of their land and traditions and want to share their fascinating stories. We have been granted special permissions to visit some wonderful places without a guide, which is realistically the only way that it currently works for operations such as ours in the regions that we travel. The pity of it is that our participants would love to get up close to a real Aboriginal and listen to his stories and learn about bush tucker. Aboriginal Arts Centre tours are an exception; the artists are often happy to talk about their work which helps promote understanding of art & Aboriginal culture and leads to sales which benefit both parties.

    I have met quite a few Aboriginals in my time, some who were young when Len and his crew were making the desert roads in the 50's & 60's. None have ever said to me that they were sorry he came, or that they were angry that the roads were being built through their country. They were grateful for the roads that made travel around their country easier for them, and gave them the opportunity to live out in their country. They also had good memories of Len and his crew, relating funny stories of riding on the bonnet of his Land Rover, and Len having given them their very first lolly. Aboriginal women look at me a laugh as the grown-up version of the first white baby that they had ever seen. They never forget!

    How has it gotten to a point now that seemingly the only reason we as 4WD'ers can travel through certain areas of the western deserts is because of a legal clause allowing travel only on public access roads without a permit? As Mick mentions above a lot of the interesting old tracks & historical features don't fall within this category, let alone trying to follow early explorer routes. Aren't we all Australians, proud of our land and wanting to explore and experience; learn from and about each other first-hand? Is isolating the Aboriginal culture in these areas and alienating those of us who are interested & actually capable of getting into the remote country really the best way? Things may settle down in the future, but in the meantime tour groups like ours are unlikely to survive.

    April 2010





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