As we celebrate NAIDOC week, I am delighted to have Nigel Browne, Traditional Owner and CEO of the Larrakia Development Corporation as my guest poster.
Larrakia people are known as Saltwater People. We share this title with many other coastal Aboriginal groups around the nation, for obvious reasons. But, when it comes to Darwin and its greater surrounds, such obviousness takes on a special and unique nature. No other capital city in the world can lay claim to Larrakia history, art, language and culture. We are as much a part of the fabric of Darwin as Darwin has become of us and despite the ever increasing expansion of urban sprawl across our traditional lands and waters, the most important fact remains; we are still here.
The Larrakia Development Corporation has long held a vision to create a truly unique space in Darwin to protect, preserve and promote Larrakia culture and its many aspects. Many years of advocacy have resulted in the identification of a space at the base of Stoke’s Hill as the most appropriate and commercially viable site to realise the development of the Larrakia Community and Cultural Centre (LCCC).
There are many reasons for selecting this site, which sits on the Southern aspect of Stoke’s Hill, adjacent to the Indo-Pacific Marine facility. The site is next door to Darwin’s tourism hotspot, the Waterfront, Larrakia people have lived next to the waters of the harbour for millennia and the Hill itself is a recorded Larrakia Sacred Site. Known as ‘Chinute Chinute’ the site is home to a Larrakia ancestral spirit which takes to form of the Tawny Frog Mouthed Owl. The site is protected by Larrakia and registered with the Aboriginal Area Protection Authority.
The establishment of the LCCC will offer a truly unique product to the Northern Territory tourism market, with the proposed development including a number of different elements such as an art space, historical museum, Larrakia language unit, performance space, healing space, meeting space and the ‘Aboriginal Tourism Hub’ concept. The Hub will be designed to create a’ one stop shop’ for visitors to the LCCC and provide a base for interested NT Aboriginal tourism operators and product manufacturers access to the Waterfront area, with particular focus on the tens of thousands of tourists who disembark from ships that visit every year.
The commercial realities of running a cultural centre like the LCCC remain at the forefront of the LDC’s business considerations. The development is being proposed so as not to rely on recurrent government funding and to include significant commercial lease space to generate numerous cashflow opportunities to assist with the upkeep and success of the site. Establishment of the LCCC will also serve to protect the integrity of the dreaming site, allow Larrakia to maintain the site for future generations and pursue cultural and commercial aspirations in the same setting.