Wednesday, 23 November 2022
The Stuart Highway runs north-south, from Darwin at the top of the Northern Territory where land meets the ocean right down to the South Australian border. The town of Elliott is the halfway point, surrounded by large Barkly regional pastoral leases. It is on Jingili country, but people from many neighbouring tribes and language groups have lived there side by side for generations, many of them the descendants of stockmen who were moved off stations following the decision by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to vary the terms of the Cattle Station Industry (Northern Territory) Award.
In October I had the honour of attending the long-awaited opening of the Northern Land Council office in North Camp. The NLC has a crucial role to play over coming years in helping various native title groups navigate a path through the issues and decisions which need to be addressed in relation to the proposed production of shale gas on their country.
Co-located in the same premises will be an important local Aboriginal organisation called Kulumindini Aboriginal Corporation, who will advocate for and provide to Aboriginal people in Elliot. Guest of honour at the opening was local custodian and leader Heather Wilson, who has been instrumental in getting Kulumindini up and running. She wants to see young people getting involved, getting educated and getting the jobs which for too long have gone to people from elsewhere, while at the same time staying true to their culture and identity. It is a great vision and goal.
Kulumindini will resume the good work started in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s by a similar entity called Gurungu Council. The old Gurungu Council office is also in North Camp and it is now the workplace of the Kulumindini Arts Centre artists. Amongst them is Harold Dalywaters, who's gifted as both a painter and musician. He was the singer for the Barkly legends, the Kulumindini Band, and over that decade has seen how music can be a force for good and for promoting the Jingili Mudburra language, culture and pride. The first album sent out a challenge to the community and in particular to the young Aboriginal people in Elliott and the Barkly, and it's called 'You're Not Useless'. Harold wants to try and revive that spark. Because of COVID and other logistical issues, the Bush Bands Bash weekend, which Music NT usually holds at a venue near Alice Springs, didn't happen, so Music NT helped Harold and the community to set up something special for Elliott and the surrounding communities—their own little music festival, which I'm looking forward to going to next year.