Yindjibarndi await land rule
Yindjibarndi people can expect a further eight-month wait to find out if they have been successful in their claim to gain exclusive possession over part of their land, after a week-long, on-country hearing concluded on Sunday.
Deep in the Hamersley Ranges, three hours south east of Karratha, Yindjibarndi families set up camp by a dry creek bed to show Federal Court Justice Steven Rares around several areas of significance within the claim area.
Justice Rares was also given the chance to peruse and sample some native bush medicines and foods found in the area.
Elder Mavis Pat is the eldest daughter of Yalgi Pat and has fond memories of Garliwinyjinha Spring where the campsite and court had been set up.
“All those medicines what we showed on display today, we just find them around here,” she said.
“We used to come through here and the river was full, one of the main rivers when we droving. Now it’s dry.
“We have to keep (the country) for the old people. We love this country.”
After four days of touring the country, the court headed back to Roebourne for the final two days of proceedings.
YAC chief executive Michael Woodley said he expected a decision over the claim to be announced after the next directions hearing in March next year.
“This has been a long, sevenyear journey to gain exclusive possession over our country and we are very appreciative to have the Federal court on country to hear our claim,” he said.
“I have been very impressed by the level of interest and professionalism from the Yindjibarndi people, who have remained focused and positive on the vision we set out from the beginning.
“Thanks to everybody involved, if we didn’t have the support of the people this week wouldn’t have been possible.”
One of the sites visited by Justice Rares was a spring called Bangkangarra adjacent to Fortescue’s Solomon Mine.
A Fortescue Metals Group spokeswoman said the company would continue to work with the Yindjibarndi people regardless of the outcome.
“Fortescue is pleased to be able to assist the Yindjibarndi people by providing access through the Solomon mining area for this important Federal Court hearing,” she said.