Gunlom Falls sacred site protection
Statement – Director of National Parks
Parks Australia has today reaffirmed its commitment to resolving the issues raised by the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA) in a constructive manner, and to work with the Traditional Owners of Kakadu National Park to ensure their culture, their heritage and their sacred sites are protected.
The Director of National Parks (Director) affirms its ongoing commitment to the management and protection of Kakadu National Park in partnership with Traditional Owners.
To address the concerns raised by Traditional Owners in September 2019 in relation to the construction of a new walking track to the top of Gunlom Falls, the Director has obtained an AAPA Authority Certificate that will enable the relocation of a section of the track. The Director will be on Park next week to commence discussions with traditional owners on the rectification. The walking track will remain closed until this rectification work has been completed and the track follows a new alignment that is acceptable to Traditional Owners.
In addition to obtaining an Authority Certificate for the rectification of the Gunlom Falls walking track, The Director will issue a binding direction to all Parks Australia staff working on matters relating to Kakadu National Park, requiring them to consider the impacts of any works conducted in the park, to consult with AAPA where there may be an impact on any sacred site, and to obtain Authority Certificates to carry out relevant works. This follows consultation over the past six months with the Northern Land Council and Kakadu Board of Management to update and formalise Traditional Owner consultation processes for Kakadu National Park.
In regard to the AAPA prosecution of the Director for constructing a walking track at Gunlom Falls without having obtained an Authority Certificate, the DNP is required by legislation to notify the court and issue a notice to the Commonwealth and State and Territory Attorneys-General where constitutional issues arise in a prosecution.
Kakadu National Park is an internationally significant cultural and natural landscape, dual World Heritage listed for its continuing Bininj/Mungguy culture and environmental values. It protects a rich collection of cultural sites, including ceremonial and sacred sites, and one of the world’s largest concentrations of rock art sites.