Mirarr snare Jabiru rights
A TWO-decade fight for recognition by Kakadu’s traditional owners has concluded with the granting of native title rights over Jabiru township.
The Federal Court held a special on-country sitting in the mining town at the gateway to the national park yesterday in which Justice John Griffiths formally recognised the rights and interests of the Mirarr.
The hearing brought to a close proceedings originally initiated by senior elder Yvonne Margarula and her sister Nida Mangarnbarr in 1998.
But in handing down the decision, Justice Griffiths noted the Mirarr’s connection to the land dated back much further than the claim’s “long and complicated history”.
“Mirarr country contains Australia’s oldest documented site of human presence and occupation, a staggering 65,000 years,” he said.
“A moment’s reflection to compare those 65,000 years of occupation with the 2000 years we use on the calendar and to appreciate that’s about 30 times more since the birth of Christ puts into a quite poignant perspective the significance of today’s event.”
After the formalities were over, Ms Margarula said the Mirarr were happy to see the long journey finally come to an end.
“We are Mirarr, we bring the land back now, that was a long time we’ve been waiting,” she said. Next generation traditional owner Simon Mudjandi said the township of Jabiru was now looking forward to a bright future for locals and tourists alike.
“As traditional owners of this town and the surrounding areas Mirarr have lots of plans for the future of Jabiru. We are working with the NT and the Australian Government to make this plan become reality,” he said.
“Lots of people know about Kakadu, they know it is important world heritage country. We Mirarr people want to show them how special this country is and to make Jabiru a great town for locals too.
“We want Jabiru to be a place to show people, we want people to come and learn about our country and culture, we look forward to welcoming people to the new town of Jabiru on beautiful Mirarr country.” Mr Mudjandi said successful rehabilitation of the mine site would be key to securing the town’s future.
“We want to see the mining company do a really good job of cleaning it up. They need to make it good enough to be part of the world heritage national park,” he said.
Jabiru township native title determination in Kakadu