The over-grazed pastoral landscapes we were walking through were also the country of the Adynamathanha people. On March 2009, the Adnyamathanha people were recognised by the Federal Court of Australia as having native title rights over about 41,000 square kilometres (16,000 sq mi) running east from the edge of Lake Torrens, through the northern Flinders Ranges, approaching the South Australian border with New South Wales. They were granted non-exclusive rights including access for ceremonial or cultural activities, hunting and camping.

Wirrealpa Range

The Adynamathanha people have co-managed both the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park and the Vulkathunha–Gammon Ranges National Park through the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA) with the South Australian Government since 2011. ATLA was established as the peak body for all matters relating to land, culture, heritage, language and native title for Adnyamathanha people, to deal with particular areas of concern such as the national parks, Indigenous land use agreements and mining negotiations.

So there is some co-existence between pastoralists on the one hand and the native title holders on the other. Native title allows aboriginal people to overcome their sense of powerlessness due to the destructive colonial history, and to begin to gain some control over their own lives so they can become an autonomous people.

pastoral landscape

This then was the history I was within. It took a major change of perspective to understand that large parts of the Flinders Ranges are on Australia’s Tentative List for World Heritage.

We spend the day walking between two ranges on Wirrealpa Station with a strong south-westerly wind. Lunch was at the foot of Mt Lyall in a creek/watercourse with its scattered bush tomatoes and mulla mulla and the dried out surrounding land of salt and blue bush. Everything that day looked as if it were just surviving. The regional climate is becoming even drier in the Anthropocene, which its recognition that humans have become a geological force. The scale of the Anthropocene, in which species extinctions is a key biological marker, means that the regional and the planetary cannot be considered in binary opposition. The Anthropocene is all around us. This means a sense of self as part of the planetary Earth System, as opposed to guardian, protector and/or defiler of it.

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