A brief history of the Banbai Traditional Owners

Members of the Banbai Nation was feeling dispossessed of Land no spiritually mentally or physically connection to our Country.

From 1995 members sort various organisations and government bodies to purchase some land on our behalf that we could call our own, a establishing our connection.

Time after time knock backs began to dishearten members

However in November 1998 the property ‘Wattleridge’ was purchased by the Indigenous Land Corporation on behalf of the Banbai Traditional Owners. A picturesque property on the eastern fall of the Northern New England Tablelands, 40kms north east of Guyra, the land comprises an area of 650ha, 80% of which is natural bushlands with many rare and endangered species including the Black Grevillea and Powerful Owl.

Banbai T O’s now felt reconnected.

Committees were developed – Banbai Board of Directors to hold and protect the title of the land, the Board consists of 6 members, two positions are held for young Banbai members.
Banbai Business Enterprises Inc. to oversee the day to day management of the property
Our vision is for the future generation so we plan for them. With this vision younger Banbai members participate in all aspects of Management from Board Members to Supervisors.

Wattleridge is extremely important to the Banbai people and has cultural as well as environmental significance and for that reason it was necessary to consider methods for further land protection.
More was needed; searching through many avenues that best suited us and our needs, we had heard about Indigenous Protected Areas that the Department of the Environment Water Heritage and the Arts offered. At first we were dubious as we couldn’t really understand what an Indigenous Protected Area would mean to us and our land, questions were raised; A survey was conducted asking Banbai members the concerns the outcome from this survey was these questions would we be able to still camp and visit our property at any time. To enjoy land we had just recently reconnected with, and the decisions we make today how will they affect our future generations.

A bus load of our members visited with the Nepabunna Aboriginal community in South Australia (the First to declare and IPA in Australia) for consultation purposes and an examination of the reasons Wattleridge was purchased for the Banbai people. After much deliberation and many many meetings and cups of teas later the decision to declare Wattleridge an IPA was unanimous. The decision was approved to declare Wattleridge an IPA on the 30th June 2001. The First in NSW to declare an IPA and its here in lil old Guyra. This process occurred over a period of 2 years.

November 2011 will signify 10 years of successful management of this programme. Our original staff of 3 in 2001 has now grown to 18 all Aboriginal people making our organisation Aboriginal owned and operated. Ages range from 50 to 19, 12 of our staff are under the age of 30, 15 fulltime positions and 3 part-time. Our staff holds various positions from Administration to Rangers – our Rangers duties include Pest management, Cultural site protection, fencing, walking track maintenance, propagation of native plants, fire management with NSW Rural Fire Service and various training programs that will benefit our people and our land such as Conservation and Land Management training Cert 3 and next year Cert 4, with TAFE NSW, OHS, chainsaw operations, first aid, information technology etc. With GALA.

In 2007 Banbai and Guyra LALC formed a partnership, it was identified that the Land Council had land and no line items in their budget for management. So the process began all again with the property Tarriwa Kurrukun 930ha of upland wetlands and stringy bark forest home to an amazing diversity of flora and fauna, 40km west of Guyra. On the 9th June 2009 we declared Tarriwa Kurrukun an IPA the 3rd in the state of NSW.

Mid 2009 Banbai was successfully in obtaining the Working on Country program through the DEWHA which targets employment and training.

Banbai have always believed in looking after our people as well as our community and where possible we always shop locally and since operations began in 2001 Banbai has injected over $295,000 per financial year into our local community.

Banbai has partnerships with Guyra LALC, SEWPAC 5 years funding, BRG CMA (Northern Tablelands LLS) 1 year Funding, DECCW, NSW Rural Fire Service.

Our Rangers are at Cert 4 CALM training

UNE 4 staff Cert 4 Project Management, 1 Diploma in Project Management

To this day we continue to manage Wattleridge and Tarriwa Kurrukun with the aim of achieving cultural and conservation outcomes.

None of the things mention would have been achievable without the driving force, commitment and dedication of the Banbai Traditional Owners my mother’s generation who fought so hard for the privileges we enjoy today, my generation who was taught by my elders to progress and the future generation who will then take over from us.

In 2011 we received the Autry Dennison – Indigenous – Caring for Our Country Award.

Thank you for your time.

Tanya Elone