Barngarla native title claim decision welcomed

NATIVE TITLE: Barngarla people Stephen Atkinson, Jeanne Miller, Harry Dare and Kendall McKenzie are happy with the Federal Court’s decision to grant native title over large areas of the Eyre Peninsula.
NATIVE TITLE: Barngarla people Stephen Atkinson, Jeanne Miller, Harry Dare and Kendall McKenzie are happy with the Federal Court’s decision to grant native title over large areas of the Eyre Peninsula.

Local Barngarla people have praised the Federal Court's decision to grant native title over large areas of the Eyre Peninsula, however, they are disappointed that Port Augusta was not included.

The landmark decision ends a near two-decade long campaign with Justice John Mansfield delivering his judgement on Thursday, January 22.

The group's claim covered 44,500 square kilometres, an area almost triangular in shape and encompassing the coast between Port Augusta and Port Lincoln and the surrounding land and seas.

Its northern edge skirted along the Gawler Ranges westward, reaching toward Ceduna.

The zone also covered the cities of Port Augusta, Whyalla and Port Lincoln.

Justice Mansfield excluded Port Augusta, the seas south of Port Lincoln and the Upper Spencer Gulf Islands.

Local Barngarla man Stephen Atkinson said it was a win for his people.

"To us it's proved a constant connection to country," he said.

"It's proved that we've always been here."

Mr Atkinson lamented that Port Augusta was not included.

"It's unfortunate that we didn't get our whole land claim approved," he said.

"Port Augusta to us as the Dare-Davis family has always been a special place, our family has always been here."

Harry Dare said a lot of work had been put in by many people to get to this point.

"There are people who are no longer with us that worked long and hard on our claim," he said.

"Special thanks goes to those people for their tireless work for our cause."

Both Mr Atkinson and Mr Dare agreed that they would continue to work towards Port Augusta being included in their claim.

Mr Atkinson said Port Augusta wasn't included because of an overlap with the Nukunu people and other Aboriginal tribes.

"The court saw it as contentious to give Port Augusta only to the Barngarla people," he said.

"But it is specifically Barngarla people who have been the owners of this part of the country."