Innes National Park Name Change to Dhilba Guuranda – Innes National Park and Under New Co-Management Board

Innes National Park will be co-managed by the Narungga Nation Aboriginal Corporation (NNAC) and is officially changing its name to Dhilba Guuranda – Innes National Park this year, the 50th anniversary of the Park, with official celebrations taking place during NAIDOC Week.

It’s taken nearly three years to get to this point from when the Buthera Agreement was signed in February 2018 by the South Australian Government and the Narungga Nation, the First Peoples of the Yorke Peninsula, to recognise their connection to Country, provide them with resources to build capacity to implement the benefits of the agreement, and to have greater input into key policy areas.

A key component of the Buthera Agreement was that the Department of Environment and Water and the Narungga Nation Aboriginal Corporation (NNAC) would come to an agreement on the co-management of Innes National Park. Another was dual naming of the Park in Narungga language.

A Co-Management Board has now been established to manage the Park consisting of eight members, four Narungga men and women, and four government representatives, with each member serving a term of four years.

“Initially there was going to be a government representative as Chair, but we questioned that, why couldn’t it be a Narungga person?” said Doug Milera, Chair of NNAC. The members went back to the drawing board and Mr Milera was voted in as inaugural Chair.

“We started looking at a name change back when the agreement was signed to officially acknowledge the Narungga peoples’ heritage in this area,” said Mr Milera.

Dhilba is the name of the Southern clan group of Narungga people and Guuranda means southern land, or southern territory. The new name was chosen by the NNAC and was signed off by both their board and the Ngan Aak-Kunch Aboriginal Corporation (NAK) Board before the Minister for Environment, David Speirs approved it in late September.

The new Co-Management Board joins eight others in South Australia which replace the Director of National Parks and Wildlife as the management authority for a park. These are:

  • Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park Co-management Board, established in 2011 with the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association
  • Kaṉku-Breakaways Conservation Park Co-management Board, established in 2013 with the Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara Aboriginal Corporation
  • Lake Gairdner National Park Co-management Board, created in 2011 with the Gawler Ranges Aboriginal Corporation
  • Maralinga Lands Unnamed Conservation Park Board, established in 2004 with the Maralinga Tjarutja, and Pila Nguru Aboriginal Corporations
  • Ngaut Ngaut Conservation Park Co-management Board, established in 2014 with Mannum Aboriginal Community Association Incorporated
  • Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park Co-management Board, created in 2005 with the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association
  • Witjira National Park Co-management Board, established in 2007 with the Irrwanyere Aboriginal Corporation.
  • Yumbarra Conservation Park Co-management Board, created in 2013 with the Far West Coast Aboriginal Corporation.

“We’re also looking into what other opportunities will be available for Narungga people within the Park, including a place where they can repatriate their Elders,” Mr Milera said with excitement, in the lead up to the celebrations during NAIDOC Week.

“While the Park turns 50 this year, we haven’t been an official part of its management over those years. It’s only taken us half a century to officially become part of it, but better late than never!”

Image: A mock-up of new entry signage to Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park. Image courtesy of Department of Environment and Water.