Si­lence

Gre­gory’s Gorge clo­sure lingers

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Tom Zaun­mayr

The cor­po­ra­tion be­hind the clo­sure of Gre­gory’s Gorge is re­fus­ing to dis­cuss any de­tails about when it will re­open, more than a year after the pop­u­lar camping spot was closed to the pub­lic.

Gre­gory’s Gorge is on the Yind­jibarndi Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion’s pri­vate Ier­a­mu­gadu lease near Ngur­rawaana Com­mu­nity.

Last Fe­bru­ary it was closed with­out warn­ing, lead­ing to an out­pour­ing of crit­i­cism di­rected at the tra­di­tional owner group.

The Pil­bara News trav­elled to the com­mu­nity at the time to hear Ngur­rawaana res­i­dents speak proudly of ideas such as horse­back river rides, cor­ro­borees, morn­ing cof­fee runs, bush tucker din­ners and talks and tours with el­ders to turn the gorge into a tourism mag­net.

It was en­vis­aged this project would help make Ngur­rawaana self-suf­fi­cient via the likes of en­try fees, guided tours, and sell­ing con­ve­nience items to campers.

A new, quicker track into the gorge across the Port­land River was also be­ing graded at the time.

A bold long-term plan to make Gre­gory’s Gorge part of a four­wheel-drive trail link­ing Mu­ru­juga, Mill­stream-Chich­ester and Kar­i­jini na­tional parks was also dis­cussed.

It has been more than a year now, and YAC chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael Wood­ley has de­nied sev­eral in­vi­ta­tions from the News to up­date the pub­lic as to how these plans are pro­gress­ing.

Mr Wood­ley said the pub­lic would be in­formed of the gorge re­open­ing when the time was right.

He said ru­mours of the gorge al­ready hav­ing re­opened were un­true.

Sev­eral Yind­jibarndi tra­di­tional own­ers, in­clud­ing el­ders, have com­plained they have been pre­vented from vis­it­ing the area.

Red Dog 4x4 Club pres­i­dent Mark Han­non said the pub­lic was itch­ing to get back out to what he de­scribed as the “pin­na­cle” for ad­ven­ture in the re­gion.

“It would be great to get back out there as a club as we have a lot of new mem­bers that are al­ways ask­ing to go out there,” he said.

“It is a beau­ti­ful place to see, plus has a great story be­hind its Abo­rig­i­nal her­itage.

“These places and sto­ries need to be shared so peo­ple can un­der­stand and re­spect where it all started.”

At the time of the clo­sure, Yind­jibarndi El­der Rose­mary Wood­ley said the pub­lic needed to re­spect the gorge was a highly sig­nif­i­cant cul­tural site for her peo­ple, which could ben­e­fit both cul­tur­ally and eco­log­i­cally from im­proved man­age­ment.

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