Tourism plan afoot for gorge
The traditional owners supporting the closure of Gregory’s Gorge have urged patience and respect as they set in motion plans to turn the popular local attraction into a world-class tourism icon.
Ngurrawaana Rangers announced the gorge would be closed a little over a week ago on Facebook, leading to heated criticism directed at the remote community.
The Pilbara News can reveal works are already well advanced to allow quicker access through the community into the gorge with scenic vistas and river crossings.
Yindjibarndi Elder Rosemary Woodley said the public needed to respect Gregory’s Gorge was a highly significant cultural site for her people, which could benefit both culturally and ecologically from improved management.
At a meeting under trees on the Portland River last Friday, ideas for the future such as horseback river rides, corroborees, morning coffee runs, bush tucker dinners and talks and tours with elders were mooted, should funding become available. It is envisaged a four-wheel-drive trail could be established linking the gorge to Murujuga, Millstream-Chichester and Karijini National Parks, where Aboriginal ranger programs and potential for cultural tourism development exists.
Ngurrawaana Rangers head ranger Kingsley Woodley said the talks were a positive step forward for the Yindjibarndi people.
“When people come out to see us, to visit us, to talk to us, we will explain the values of Yindjibarndi way of living and the way the ecosystem and our cultural sights should be protected,” he said.
“The whole of Gregory’s Gorge is so significant that we want to develop something at that place so it is welcoming to all people.
“When people come to our country we want to give them memories to come back home and share with their kids.”
Aboriginal Biodiversity Conservation Foundation founder Brad Rowe, who is helping the community develop a business plan to assist in funding applications, said the current meetings revolved
around setting realistic goals to get the ball rolling.
“This is about long-term sustainability for communities for the betterment of the Yindjibarndi people and country,” he said.
“It’s about being able to educate people who are unaware of the significance of places and allowing knowledge to be transferred in a culturally appropriate manner.
In the meantime Ngurrawaana Community chairman Ricky Smith said the public needed to keep their cool during the closure, as it would benefit everyone.
Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Michael Woodley said the community would work closely with other stakeholders to meet community, environmental and cultural concerns.