Church signs over Aboriginal heritage site

Traditional owner Karl Telfer on the land near McLaren Vale that has been made available for Aboriginal cultural renewal. (Nat Rogers/The Southern Cross)

In an historic gesture, the Catholic Church has made land available for Aboriginal cultural renewal near McLaren Vale, South Australia. Source: The Southern Cross.

Archbishop Patrick O’Regan and Karl Winda Telfer, senior traditional owner, have signed an agreement which provides tenure to a 3.5ha registered Aboriginal site near McLaren Vale, 35km south of Adelaide, for Mr Telfer and his descendants for 50 years.

The land is part of an ancient campground known as Kanyanyapilla, occupied by Mr Telfer’s ancestors for several thousand years and a registered Aboriginal Heritage site.

Mr Telfer said he was “deeply grateful to Archbishop O’Regan for this heartfelt step towards Aboriginal self-determination, our cultural and spiritual renewal, and our own care for our yerta, our country, our parngkarra”.

He also thanked Treasury Wine Estates, which leased the land as part of a much larger holding for wine grape production. The company willingly surrendered its lease over the portion of land to allow Aboriginal management of Country.

Mr Telfer said he and his family and clan would revegetate the site with the assistance of many in the region who were supportive of Aboriginal tenure to land and their cultural and spiritual renewal.

He also plans to host a range of cultural and educational activities with the wider community and use it to help young Indigenous men to “get to know Country” and learn its cultural significance.


Historic agreement for Aboriginal heritage site (By Jenny Brinkworth, The Southern Cross)

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