Dotty over parks

OVER 150 people gathered to create a giant dot painting in South Fremantle last Sunday in support of plans to turn former pastoral stations into parks managed by Aboriginal rangers.

The Create Ranger Parks initiative is looking at five million hectares of land purchased by the WA government for conservation 20 years ago which has since laid idle.

CRP spokesperson and Fremantle local Suzannah Macbeth says the properties were supposed to be protected under conservation laws, but it happened.

“There are traditional owners in all of those areas with connections to that land, so our proposal is about involving the traditional owners to make sure they are fully involved in the management and care of these areas into the future,”she says.

• Create Ranger Parks proposes to turn five million hectares of former pastoral stations into national parks managed by Aboriginal rangers. Photo courtesy Partnership for the Outback

Ms Macbeth says the areas are home to threatened species and rare plants, and much of the land is under Native Title.

The parks include locations in the mid west, the Pilbara, the Gascoyne and Shark Bay.

She says the initiative would create hundreds of new jobs and benefits for local Aboriginal communities.

Njamal and Nyangumarta elder Doris Eaton says a lot of the land involved has cultural significance to her people.

“We got many stories there, we got dreaming of the seven sister and many men stuff and animals and plants that we’d like to take care of and be allowed to take care of.

“We can take the young kids back to let them know where they belong and say this is where your ancestors belong too. Then they have that understanding and don’t get lost.”

The painting at the Growers Green Farmers Market was led by artists Grace Comeagain (a Yamatji Wongi woman) and Caitlin Lawton (a Wongi woman) and will be presented as a gift to environment minister Stephen Dawson, later this year.

by MOLLY SCHMIDT

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