Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council is hoping for a boom to its sand dune quad bike tours business following a successful Aboriginal land claim at Anna Bay.
The Department of Planning and Environment – Crown Lands has returned 10.6 hectares of land adjoining the sand dunes near Gan Gan Road following the claim.
Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO Andrew Smith said the claim provides unrestricted access to land on the northern sand dunes the land council already owns, creating new opportunities for cultural, social and economic benefits.
The land council operates Sand Dune Adventures which offers a leading Aboriginal guided tourism experience in the southern dunes blending the excitement of riding your quad bike across the largest coastal sand dunes in the southern hemisphere, while sharing in the Aboriginal culture and heritage of the sands.
“The popularity of the northern dunes for tourism is no secret and having our own direct access to our own resource for tourism provides us with excellent opportunities to discover and unpack,” Mr Smith said.
“The area is culturally significant physically and spiritually in more ways people can appreciate, so this is an excellent outcome where we can protect the area more efficiently, while allowing access that promotes cultural health and well-being.
“Of course, we will negotiate and work with Port Stephens Council and the Worimi Conservation Lands Board to create partnerships that allow for best regenerative use of the land to benefit all key stakeholders, including the land council.”
Under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, Aboriginal land claims on Crown land are assessed by the Department of Planning and Environment – Crown Lands against statutory criteria, including whether the land is lawfully used or occupied. If the land is found to be claimable it is returned to the Aboriginal land council as freehold land.
Crown Lands Executive Director of Land Strategy Michael Ramalli said the department was working to accelerate the processing of more Aboriginal land claims.
"The returning of land to Aboriginal land councils via the land claims process supports economic, social and cultural outcomes for Aboriginal communities.
"Crown Lands is working with Land Councils to identify their priority land claims, process more land claims, prioritise the most important claims for land councils to help them achieve benefits, and also negotiate Aboriginal land agreements to settle bulk land claims," Mr Ramalli said.