An innovative combination of tourism, education and pastoralism is bearing rich rewards on this indigenous Land Corporation-owned station in western Australia’s east Kimberley.
The Pentecost River slides along beneath the Cockburn Range’s softly glowing sandstone cliffs. Sitting on its stony bank as the late afternoon light morphs around him, Nick Bradley thinks about the past four-and-a-half years on Home Valley Station. They have been busy, challenging and, ultimately, productive and satisfying years. Nick and his wife Sarah manage the combined pastoral leases of Home Valley, Durack River and Karunjie stations for the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC), which had bought the leases in 1999 for the local Balanggarra and Nyaliga people.
When the newly wed Bradleys arrived on Home Valley there was not a lot going on – a campsite, some stringy cattle, a run-down homestead and a small basic tourist facility. There was no involvement with local Aboriginal people. Placing great faith in the young couple’s vision and drive, the ILC has invested around $15 million in Home Valley in the past five years to create a truly impressive and world-class operation catering to thousands of tourists, an innovative indigenous training program and a source of pride for all involved. The cattle are still pretty stringy, but the introduction of 200 good Brahman bulls from the ILC’s Roebuck Plains Station is slowly improving the progeny of the existing “mongrel Kimberley scrubbers”.
“It’s certainly been an exciting, difficult and challenging process,” Nick says. “I set out immediately to include the indigenous people of the region, to give them a sense of ownership of the ILC’s initiative. Balancing the two totally different worlds of public-service culture and language and Aboriginal culture and language, and finding common ground is not an easy thing to do!