Maralinga Tjarutja

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Maralinga Tjarutja
South Australia
MT LGA.png
Location of the Maralinga Tjarutja Council
Population 105 (2006)[1]
 • Density 0.001/km2 (0.0026/sq mi)
Established 2006
Area 102,863.6 km2 (39,715.9 sq mi)
Council seat Ceduna (outside Council area)
Region Eyre and Western[2]
State electorate(s) Flinders
Federal Division(s) Grey
Website Maralinga Tjarutja
LGAs around Maralinga Tjarutja:
Ngaanyatjarraku, WA Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara
Laverton Shire, WA Maralinga Tjarutja
Laverton Shire, WA Unincorporated area

The Maralinga Tjarutja is the Indigenous Australian corporation representing the Traditional Owners of the remote western areas of South Australia known as the Maralinga Tjarutja lands. They are a Southern Pitjantjatjara people.

The lands of the Maralinga Tjarutja bear their own name. These lands, in South Australia's remote west, comprise Maralinga Tjaruta, one of the four regions local government areas of South Australia classified an Aboriginal Council (AC) and not incorporated within a local government area. The State of South Australia is the only jurisdiction in Australia which has large areas of unincorporated land (not included within a local government area) and much of it is occupied by remote Aboriginal communities. The area measures 102,863.6 km2 (39,715.9 sq mi),[3] making it the largest privately owned area of South Australia by area (followed by Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara to the north, which is nearly as large), with a population of only 105,[1] all in the community of Oak Valley.

Many Maralinga people were still living traditionally in their lands when the first British nuclear test took place in 1953. These Aboriginal people had not been forewarned the nuclear blasts were going to take place. They later reported hearing a great thunderous 'bang' and huge, oily, black clouds covering the lands, after the blast.

The Maralinga people were then not allowed to occupy or pass through their lands throughout the rest of the 1950s and 1960s because of the British nuclear tests. The Maralinga Tjarutja land was handed back to the Maralinga people from January 1985 under legislation passed by both houses of the South Australian Parliament in December 1984 and proclaimed in January 1985. Some Maralinga people resettled on the land in the early 1990s and named the main community Oak Valley Community. Many Maralinga people did not return to the land, and claims that the fallout from the blasts and caused blindness, illness and death have not been compensated by the British or Australian governments.[citation needed] Similarly, it was afterwards claimed that veterans who were in Maralinga at the time of the blasts and in the 'clean up' afterwards were exposed to high levels of radiation and fallout which resulted in illness and death, and those veterans and their families have never been compensated.[citation needed]

In 2003 South Australian Premier Mike Rann and Education Minister Trish White opened a new school at Oak Valley replacing what had been described as the "worst school in Australia".[4] In May 2004, following the passage of special legislation, Premier Rann handed back title to 21,000 square kilometres of land to the Maralinga Tjarutja and Pila Nguru people. The land, 1000 km Northwest of Adelaide and abutting the Western Australia border, was called the Unnamed Conservation Park. It is now known as Mamungari Conservation Park. It includes the Serpentine Lakes and was the largest land return since Premier John Bannon's hand over of Maralinga lands in 1984. At the 2004 ceremony Premier Rann said the return of the land fulfilled a promise he made in 1991 when he was Aboriginal Affairs Minister after he passed legislation to return lands including the sacred Ooldea area (which also included the site of Daisy Bates' mission camp) to the Maralinga Tjarutja people.[5]

Maralinga Tjarutja Council[edit]

The Maralinga Tjarutja Council is an incorporated body constituted by the traditional owners (Yalata and Maralinga people) to administer the lands granted to them under the Maralinga Tjarutja Land Rights Act 1984 (SA).[6] The head office is at: 43 McKenzie Street, Ceduna. Dr Archie Barton AM was the Administrator until 2006, and was involved in the campaign in 1982-1984 on behalf of the Yalata and Maralinga people for land rights to the Maralinga Tjarutja lands.

The Maralinga Tjarutja and the Pila Nguru (or Spinifex people) also jointly own and administer the 21,357.85 km² Mamungari Conservation Park, which area is contained in the area total for the council area. Emu Field is now part of the council area, too, while the 3,300 km² Maralinga area is still a roughly square shaped enclave within the council area.

The land surveyed and known as Section 400 was returned to Traditional Ownership in 2007. This land includes the area of land occupied by the Maralinga Township and the areas in which atomic tests were carried out by the British and Australian governments.

The final part of the 1782 square kilometre former nuclear test site was returned in 2014[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b [1], National Regional Profile: Maralinga Tjarutja (AC) (Local Government Area). 2010.
  2. ^ "Eyre Western SA Government region" (PDF). The Government of South Australia. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  3. ^ [2], National Regional Profile: Maralinga Tjarutja (AC) (Local Government Area). 2010.
  4. ^ ABC News May 4 2003 "Maralinga Students Welcome New School"[3]
  5. ^ The Age 25 August 2004, "Maralinga Handover Prompts Celebration"
  6. ^ Maralinga Tjarutja Land Rights Act 1984 at retrieved 21 May 2013
  7. ^ (5 November 2014), Homeland ceded to traditional owners, Sydney Morning Herald, p. 11

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 26°29′25″S 132°00′28″E / 26.4902777778°S 132.007777778°E / -26.4902777778; 132.007777778