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Desert Updates from 2005

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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 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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