In an unprecedented deal, the Kimberley’s spectacular El Questro has been returned to the Ngarinyin Traditional Owners.
Up until now, the park and its incredibly diverse landscape has been under a pastoral lease first granted by the Crown in 1903. Since then, operators have been required to keep cattle on the station, but the new Indigenous Land Use Agreement with the WA Government will transform the southern part of the park – a huge 165,000 hectares– into a nature reserve.
“This landmark agreement provides sustainable and lasting opportunities for the Traditional Owners, the Ngarinyin people,” said Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti.
“It represents the potential for greater economic independence and self-determination for the Ngarinyin people, for today, and long into the future.”
This part of the park includes El Questro Gorge, Chamberlain Gorge and the iconic Zebedee Springs. To the north, Emma Gorge Resort sits on Balanggarra land and is not included in the agreement.
G’day Group, who bought El Questro in 2021, have been granted a 99 year lease with the Wilinggin Aboriginal Corporation – so visitors are still very welcome! As part of the new agreement, new cultural experiences will be created in conjunction with the Wanjina Wungurr Wilinggin Traditional Owners, with plans to increase employment and training opportunities for Indigenous youth.
The park’s management will also aim at net zero emissions through electricity generation, carbon credits and waste management.
“This agreement will not only ensure economic activity continues to flow through to the wider region, but it also sets out to be environmentally responsible through sustainable land use and management practices,” said Lands Minister John Carey.