Deposit of almost $1.2m used to buy Wilpena Pound

An Aboriginal leader has outlined a new future for Wilpena Pound.

Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association chief executive officer Vince Coulthard said the Adnyamathanha Trust had bought the resort north of Port Augusta.

He said $1,196,000 had been used as a deposit for the transaction.

The Transcontinental asked about the listing of the sum as an adjustment for 2017 in the balance sheet as at June 30 last year.

"The item you refer to is a balance sheet adjustment and does not reflect cash as such," Mr Coulthard said.

"In 2015, the association paid this amount to its wholly-owned company which administers the Adnyamathanha Trust.

"Due to an accounting recording error the payment was recorded as a loan rather than a grant.

"This resulted in the money being shown as an asset in the books of the association.

"As a result of questions by the auditor, it was shown that it was a gift and not a loan and so an adjustment was made in the balance sheet to correct this error.

"The deposit was paid by the trust to purchase the resort with Indigenous Business Australia and this has become one of the region's major economic successes."

Mr Coulthard described the turnaround in fortunes at the site.

"Before we owned this iconic resort, most of the staff were casual overseas backpackers who took their pay to spend outside the region," he said. "Since we have owned the resort we have 78 percent Adnyamathanha staff and we employ very nearly 100 percent local staff so this means the money stays in the region.

"We have Adnyamathanha people in management and supervisory positions and our successes just continue. We had a training program that had a 100-percent success with all participants graduating.

"As is the case with the hospitality industry, our staff move around, but we are again proud of our people who have moved into full-time work in mines, other motels and similar businesses throughout the region.

"We now have Adnyamathanha cultural tours available at Wilpena with a daily welcome to country, free for all of our visitors to learn about our culture.

"Our tours have been highlighted on television in South Aussie With Cosi, the Ernie Dingo Show, SA Weekender, to name a few."

Mr Coulthard invited the newspaper to visit the resort to "see for yourself just how successful we have been there". Most of the association's funds come from Native Title negotiations, most of which are commercial-in-confidence and can include arrangements with mining companies.

It has had some small grants from state and federal governments and they are reported on separately to the department concerned.

Funds are audited yearly and the audited statements lodged with Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations.

The Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association is expected to hold an annual general meeting soon.