Alice Springs is getting a new 7.2km walking and cycling path, completely funded by the Traditional Owners. How good!
In the biggest investment by an Aboriginal group to public infrastructure to date, the Traditional Owners of Yeperenye (Emily and Jessie Gaps Nature Park) in Alice Springs are creating a new public walking and cycling track between Anthwerrke (Emily Gap) and Atherrke (Jessie Gap) in the East Macdonnell Ranges.
In an incredibly generous gesture of country, culture, and cash, the 7.2km track will be funded with the rent the Traditional Owners are receiving for the public use of the park. The building of the trail will create Aboriginal employment opportunities through construction, interpretation of signs, and repair and maintenance.
Traditional Owner Lynette Ellis has said, ‘We want to share the place with everyone, and let them know that the community planned and funded it with our rent money.’
The $330,000 track is expected to become a major tourist attraction of Alice Springs for visitors of differing abilities, with wheelchair access at both Anthwerrke (Emily Gap) and Atherrke (Jessie Gap), as well as plenty of rest stops along the way.
‘It’s so the old people and those who aren’t mobile can also come to the site,’ Ms Ellis said.
The park is home to significant dreamings, and is the place where, Yeperenye, Ntyarlke, and Utnerrengatye, the three caterpillar songlines meet.
Alice Springs construction company, Tricky Tracks, has been chosen to take on the build and plans to hire four local Aboriginal workers and train them throughout the build to ensure ongoing employment once the construction is complete.
The trail will follow the natural contours of the landscape, in an effort to cause minimal environmental damage.
Feature photo thanks to Central Land Council