The Olkola People’s traditional estate is vast.
For thousands of years the Olkola People have been custodians for over one million hectares of land between the now – Laura township to the east and Kowanyama and Pormpuraaw to the west.
Olkola’s Journey Home and management arrangements
After years of advocating and negotiating with government, Olkola Aboriginal Corporation now holds and manages 869,822 hectares of its Traditional Lands, making it one of the largest landholders in the Cape York Peninsula. More information on the history of the land dealings and establishment of the Corporation is found here. The Olkola properties that are now managed by the Corporation are done so under varying arrangements.
The following Olkola properties are managed jointly with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services under special management arrangements, and allow some form of public access:
- The Olkola National Park (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal land)
- The Alwal National Park (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal land)
- The Olkola (Kurrumbila) Regional Park
The OIkola Aboriginal Corporation also independently manages private Aboriginal Freehold land, including the Olkola Nature Refuge, as well as the pastoral station, Glen Garland.
The Olkola Aboriginal Corporation undertakes a range of different projects for country, culture and people. Below are a few ongoing projects that we are currently managing:
1. Olkola Ajin Savannah Burning Project
By registering the Olkola Ajin Savannah Burning Project in late 2014, the Olkola Aboriginal Corporation has been able to develop a project that produces income for the Corporation by implementing an early burning fire regime that reduces late season wildfires and therefore the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. If we are successful in ‘abating’ greenhouse gases through this method, this project earns the Corporation ‘carbon credits’ under the Federal Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative, which is determined each year by how successful we have been in preventing greenhouse gases being released by late season fires.
The project combines traditional burning methods of ‘patchwork’ early season birns to prevent later hotter fires in the late dry season. The project is through a partnership with Natural Carbon and has the potential to reduce up to 50,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year across an area of about 8,000 square kilometers. Our property caretakers and our Rangers are key to having this project run successfully by undertaking early season burns, creating fire breaks and being available to fight wildfires where necessary.
Learn more about the Olkola Ajin Savannah Burning Project
2. Joint Management of national parks (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal land) and the Olkola (Kurrumbila) Resource Reserve with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services (QPWS)
Under unique tenure arrangements, Olkola holds the underlying title to these areas, but manages them jointly with QPWS in accordance with their Indigenous Management Agreements and the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Qld). Essentially, decisions on how the park is to be managed are made jointly with Olkola and QPWS, and management tasks are also jointly undertaken.
Day to day management of the parks includes Olkola Land Managers working in partnership with QPWS rangers to undertake a range of land management activities including:
- Pest and weed management
- Fire management
- Cattle removal and fencing
- Visitor management (However, as these parks only came into existence in 2015, they do not currently have much infrastructure, but the Corporation is working with QPWS to develop camping and day use areas that will become available in the future).
3. Alwal (Golden Shouldered Parrot) Revival Project
The Golden-shouldered Parrot or Alwal in Olkola Language is a totem for the Olkola People and endemic to the Olkola Country. It is also recognised as endangered by both the Queensland (Nature Conservation Act 1992) and Australian governments (EPBC Act 1999), and meets the criteria for being classed as an endangered species under several IUCN Red List categories.
Olkola is working in Partnership with Bush Heritage in undertaking intensive work to protect this vitally important bird by:
- Protecting the habitat of Alwal
- Undertaking a monitoring program – monitoring existing birds, their breeding cycles and identifying threats
- Addressing threats such as feral cat predation.
- Learn more about the Alwal (Golden Shouldered Parrot)
4. Olkol Language Revival Project
The Olkola language, practiced for thousands of years, is now like many Indigenous languages, left with only a few speakers and threatened with being lost forever. The Olkola Aboriginal Corporation has been working actively to record and revive the Olkola Language and successfully established the Olkola Language Revival Project in 2016 with assistance from the Pama Language Centre.
The Olkola Aboriginal Corporation is working with Pama Language Centre to establish an Olkola Language Group that will foster research, data collection and practice of Olkola language in the community and help revive the language through resources, dictionary, stories, digital media, language camps, recordings.
This exciting project has only just begun. We look forward to developing resources in the Olkola Language to be made available to Olkola People and the public in the near future.
5. Olkur Ulyari – Water
Life on Olkola Country is dictated by water –the wet season rains bring life that transforms the landscape, filling our lagoons and creeks and turning our vast western plains into an extensive floodplain. The dry season sees water become scarce, making our perennial water sites critical for survival on Country. These sites have been used by our people for thousands of years, living on Country, and they hold important stories and values to us.
The Corporation has been working to document the cultural values of water on Olkola Country in 2017, identifying our important story places connected to waterholes, creeks and lagoons, and beginning a water monitoring project to obtain baseline data on their health.
Olkola Land Managers have been working with Christina Howley Consulting on this project which was funded by the Queensland Government’s Indigenous Land and Sea Program.
We now have baseline data on 14 important sites on Olkola Country.
We look forward to continuing this work in 2018.