Alice Springs has just gained a new 7.2km walking and cycling path, completely funded and built 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 have created 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 has been funded by the rent the Traditional Owners receive from the Federal Government for the public use of the park.
The track was completely constructed by the hands of 33 Eastern Arrernte workers who received on-the-job training from local company Tricky Tracks, which specialises in hand-built trails. This method was specifically chosen to minimise erosion around this sacred area.
‘It’s quite an amazing project to be part of and hopefully it sets a precedent for how things can be done in the future,’ Beth Campbell of Tricky Tracks said.
Traditional Owners designed the trail to naturally contour to the landscape, and have included interpretative signs at the trailhead.
Traditional Owner Lynette Ellis said, ‘We did this trail for all of us here, for our young kids now and for our future generations.’
$364,000 was invested into the track, which is expected to become a major tourist attraction 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.
Feature photo thanks to Central Land Council