Professor Ovington and Reggie Uluru hold aloft copies of the handback lease agreement
Audio tour 16 - modern history
- Location: Leaving the park | Duration: 3m55s
- Download audio tour 16 | Modern history (MP3 - 8.97 MB)
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We hope you have enjoyed your visit to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. I’d like to finish our tour by telling you a little of the modern history of the park.
The first European person to see Kata-Tjuta was an explorer named Ernest Giles. In 1872, he saw Kata-Tjuta from near Kings Canyon, and gave it the English name Mt Olga. The next year another explorer called William Christie Gosse visited Uluru. He gave Uluru the English name Ayers Rock.
At the same time Anangu continued to live their lives, travelling in small family groups, relying on the land for food and water and looking after country.
Then in 1920, the Australian Government reserved a portion of land, including Uluru and Kata Tjuta, for Aboriginal people and called it the Great Central Aboriginal Reserve.
By the 1940s the first recorded tourists had arrived. In 1950 the park was named Ayers Rock National Park. The park’s first ranger Bill Harney was appointed in 1957.
In 1972 Anangu emphasised their traditional ownership of Uluru by recording ceremonies that showed their ongoing relationship to the land. The same year the Ininti store was established as an Anangu business. Ininti still operates today - check out the cafe at the Cultural Centre.
By 1983 Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke had acknowledged Aboriginal title of the land.
Then in a historic moment on 26 October 1985, the Australian Government handed back the freehold title deeds to the park to its Anangu traditional owners. This moment is known as ‘handback’ and we celebrate it each year.
After handback, Anangu traditional owners decided to lease the park to the Director of National Parks for a period of 99 years. This led to what we call joint management - Parks Australia and Anangu working together to manage Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
In 1987 the United Nations gave World Heritage status to our park for its natural beauty and outstanding geology. The United Nations recognised Uluru-Kata Tjuta again in 1994. This time for its role as a living cultural landscape.
The Cultural Centre opened in 1995 to mark the 10th anniversary of handback. The same year the park received UNESCO’s highest honour - the Picasso Gold Medal. We won the medal for our outstanding efforts looking after the landscape and Anangu culture and for setting new international standards for World Heritage management.
In 2005 we launched our mala rufous hare-wallaby captive breeding program in the park. The mala is culturally important to Anangu, but while it was once common across the region, it had become all but extinct in the wild. Our breeding program means mala numbers are increasing, protected from feral pests in their fenced enclosure. One day we hope to return mala to the wild.
In 2010 we held a festival to mark the 25th anniversary of handback. Today Anangu and Parks Australia continue to jointly manage the park, with Tjukurpa, traditional law, guiding us.
We wish you all the best and hope that you have enjoyed your journey through Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.