Kakadu National Park

Wednesday 29 May 2024

Since commencing in the office of the Director of National Parks in November 2023, I have been committed to resolving the Gunlom Falls matter and repairing relationships with Traditional Owners.

As Director of National Parks and a proud Djungan man, I take the protection of sacred sites very seriously.

Now that the constitutional issues have been resolved in the High Court, I have advised the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA) and the Gunlom Aboriginal Land Trust that I, as the Director of National Parks (being a corporation sole), will plead guilty in the criminal proceedings before the Local Court of the Northern Territory.

I understand that the trackwork at Gunlom Falls which was undertaken in 2019 before my tenure in the role, caused great distress and upset to the Jawoyn Traditional Owners of the site. I express my deep and sincere apologies to Traditional Owners for the wrongs of the past.

Our focus now is working with Traditional Owners, AAPA and the Northern Land Council on the next steps in relation to the Gunlom site. This includes obtaining an Authority Certificate from AAPA for continued use of the site.

The protection of sacred sites and cultural heritage is always at the heart of Park Australia’s work. I am committed, as are each of my staff, to working in partnership with Traditional Owners to manage and protect the cultural and natural values of the special places we are entrusted to manage.

Over the past two years, Parks Australia staff have worked with Traditional Owners from the Gunlom Aboriginal Land Trust and with the Northern Land Council (NLC) to realign the walking track. Certificates from AAPA were obtained for these works which are now complete.

Again, I regret and am sorry for the upset caused to Traditional Owners. I would like to reassure all of Kakadu’s Traditional Owners, the Gunlom Aboriginal Land Trust, and the Kakadu National Park Board of Management, that the lessons learned from this situation will improve how Parks Australia plans and executes projects. This includes how Parks Australia works with the NLC and AAPA to facilitate consultation around projects, to ensure something like this never happens again.

Ricky Archer
Director of National Parks


The Director of National Parks is a corporation established under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The corporation is constituted by the person appointed to the office named the Director of National Parks.