TRADITIONAL Owners of Kakadu National Park are at loggerheads with Parks Australia and threatening to close the World Heritage site amid claims the agency has mismanaged the site.

The land is jointly managed by Kakadu's Traditional Owners and the federal agency Parks Australia.

An ABC Four Corners ­report, which aired last night, reported Traditional Owners of Kakadu, such as Jonathan Nadji, would shut popular tourist sites.

Mr Nadji said the famous lookout and rock art of Ubirr could be closed to drive home the point.



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"It's the worst management that I've ever seen, ever happen," Mr Nadji said.

"There's no management in this place, it's gone downhill. No one basically trusts anybody, no one respects each other anymore."

Senior Traditional Owner for Gunlom Falls Mick Markham said he was prepared to close down that site.

The top pools at Gunlom Falls were closed to the public during last year's tourism season due to claims a new walkway was built close to a sacred site.

The matter is before the court after the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority filed a charge against Parks Australia.

Kakadu board of management chair Maria Lee said: "Whatever we made a decision on, they (Parks) would override that decision.


Kakadu promotional video: A strategic plan has been launched for the next 10 years for Kakadu National Park.
Kakadu promotional video: A strategic plan has been launched for the next 10 years for Kakadu National Park.


"And I'd be arguing with the director all the time and I'd be arguing with the assistant secretary and I would be arguing with the park manager.

"They thought that Bininj people were a bunch of stupid idiots, don't know anything."

Traditional Owner and Kakadu board member Jonathan Nadji who said he ­almost died in a 2019 fire near the East Alligator Ranger ­Station, said he and other rangers were concerned there were too few Aboriginal rangers to take care of the park.

"We're understaffed here and that's what we really need, we need more staffing," Mr Nadji told Four Corners.

"That's where the management is doing their own, making their own decisions without talking to Traditional Owners and basically sitting around the table like we're supposed to do as a joint managed park and talking about it, but it's not happening at all."

The report also focused on the Ranger Mine, which wrapped up last month, and the site's rehabilitation process.

Energy Resources Australia chief executive Paul Arnold said: "We have, with the support and input from our stakeholders, regulators, under­taken a very detailed assess­ment of how best to rehabilitate the site given that we're situated and surrounded by a national park."

Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Justin O'Brien said: "The world is watching Rio Tinto, particularly since the Pilbara.

"That has lit up the need for contemporary mining companies to do the utmost they can, not just in terms of the cultural protection there, but there's the physical protection of country here."

One of the mine's workers, Jody Stansfield, said they were getting ready to leave Jabiru: "A few months and we'll pack up and head to Darwin and make a new start there."


Originally published as 'It's gone downhill': Traditional owners threaten to close Kakadu due to mismanagement