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TOURISM


SHARING THE LAND


The launch of eco resort Cicada Lodge in the heart of Australia’s wild north is the latest part of a pioneering partnership between the Aboriginal Jawoyn people and the Australian government. Magali Robathan fi nds out more


W


hen it opened in March 2013, Australia’s Cicada Lodge fulfi lled its promise of offering tastefully-


designed, environmentally sustainable accommodation in spectacular, unspoilt


surroundings. Situated in the Nitmiluk National Park, 300km south of Darwin, Cicada Lodge has been kept deliberately small, with 18 ‘architect-designed’ rooms set on the banks of the Katherine River. It’s an idyllic place in a truly incredible spot, but the Cicada Lodge story is about much more than just the launch of another boutique resort. It is also the story of a plan to maintain the culture and environment of the aboriginal Jawoyn people, whose ancestors have lived and depended on the land for more than 40,000 years.


TAKING CONTROL


Nitmiluk Tours allows tourists to participate in cultural activities with Jawoyn people


174 LEISURE HANDBOOK 2014


In 1978, the Jawoyn people lodged a claim for land rights to the area that was then called the Katherine Gorge National Park, where they had lived for thousands of years. In 1985, the Jawoyn Association was launched, and in 1989 the Jawoyn people fi nally won their land claim under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act. Many Australians were worried that the park would be closed to tourism, but the Jawoyn Association insisted that they


were keen to share their country and show others what it meant to them.


“The Jawoyn people do not believe that they own the land but rather that the land owns them and they have an obligation to care for it,” says Mandy Dwyer, director of Dwyer Tourism Consultants, which is promoting Cicada Lodge. “By sharing the land and their culture with others


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