Lorella springs closed

Submitted: Friday, Jan 13, 2023 at 21:44
ThreadID: 145241 Views:3297 Replies:11 FollowUps:30
This is not goodbye, but...

This announcement is going out with a heavy heart, a lot of emotion and a bit of fear, as we step into the unknown.

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LORELLA SPRINGS WILL NOT BE OPENING ITS DOORS IN 2023, EXCEPT FOR VISITORS AS PART OF A PREBOOKED OUTBACK TOUR GROUP.
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I have spent almost my whole life to make Lorella what it is today.
I have even often joked that I do not own Lorella – Lorella owns me.

Forty years ago, it was a piece of land in the middle of nowhere, that nobody wanted or even showed interest in.
It protected my family and I when we were at our most vulnerable, and in return it allowed us to care for it and made us its ‘keepers of the land’.
It connected with us several decades ago and has led our lives ever since.
And so, it only came naturally that we decided to let Lorella welcome others too.

Almost 25 years – that is how long I have been doing tourism at Lorella for.

What started as my family and I opening up our backyard to the public to share the many beautiful wonders of our private property, I believe has turned into one of Australia’s favourite holiday destinations and the longest surviving tourism venture in the Northern Territory. At Lorella, we have it all – for the nature lover, the bush walker, the bird watcher as well as the outback explorer, the remote camper and anyone keen to discover our unique Top End savannah region – a true wilderness sanctuary.

I never aimed to be a big corporation, only a successful small family business.
Fate would have it that Lorella would grow so popular that she became a victim of her own success.

It is not just the bureaucracy or the feeling of being forgotten and less supported in our remote location. It is not just either the pressure from those who do not accept that I, too, have an attachment to this land and care for it. It is the above and more.
The red tape has become too much for us to keep things as they are.

There was a time when my vision was so clear that the sacrifices I had to make in my life only seemed natural and fair. However, in recent times, with more and more restrictions being laid on us, I have been losing that dream and far from becoming easier, the running of Lorella’s tourism as it is has become impossible.

Please believe me when I say this: we feel and share the disappointment and shock. However, unfortunately, this situation is mainly out of our control. Lorella cannot reopen to drive-by visitors in 2023.

Lorella changed not only my life but the life of many.
Some people said it saved them.
It certainly saved me – more than once.

And like me, I know there are hundreds, thousands, out there in Australia and even abroad, who simply love Lorella for what it is. People who respect who we are and what we do. Many who will hurt to find out that they may never go back to what we consider to be a unique place on earth.

My dream has unravelled.
With sadness we say a huge THANK YOU to the many thousands of visitors who have become our loyal and good friends over the last 20-something years, and to the myriad of armchair followers that had us on their bucket list for one day.

Lorella Springs Wilderness is taking a new direction. It may be looking a bit bumpy ahead, but let’s see where the future leads us.

Thanking you all for your ongoing support and love of Lorella.

Rhett & family.

We leave you with a selection of photos of the evolution of Lorella.
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Reply By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 07:09

Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 07:09
Bugger!
We were planning to go there for a few days in early July. Looks like we will have to find somewhere else to spend a few days in the Gulf other than the places we have already planned.
Apart from nearby Limmen NP, 7 Emus (?), Lawn Hill (been there twice previously), any other suggestions.
We weren't planning on heading any further west than Limmen or Lorella Springs

Mark


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Follow Up By: Greg W22 - Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 08:16

Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 08:16
We were also planning to be there early July for a few nights. Was looking forward to that area,fuel too. Have to check out NP campsites now. Tomato island is highly recommended. Back to the planning again.
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Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 14:33

Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 14:33
Unfortunately the NP’s are very much second rate compared to places like Lorella
It is a big loss to the camping community
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Reply By: George_M - Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 09:44

Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 09:44
Take care, Rhett. And good luck in your new direction for the business.

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Reply By: Member - mechpete - Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 10:45

Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 10:45
Could ya please give a bit more on how its out of ur control
Cheers mechpete
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Follow Up By: tonysmc - Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 16:23

Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 16:23
I'm not sure if this is the reason for the closure but I think the costs involved complying with some requirements of the link below alone would make running this sort of business not viable. Sad to see a business like this shut their doors, I hope they can endure.
Lorella region
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Follow Up By: Member Andys Adventures - Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 19:52

Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 19:52
They want to scale down a bit and concentrate on the cattle side a bit more.
Only having bus tours there is less maintenance of tracks and less rubbish that is left behind by campers around the property.
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Follow Up By: Zippo - Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 21:23

Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 21:23
Tony that's hit the nail on the head. Quite a read, but the underlying story emerges.
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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 22:01

Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 22:01
I'm sure there is more to the story but having read those submissions in Tony's link two things seem to stand out to me.

1. The Aboriginal land claim is for a significant but comparatively (to the the overall size of the property) small area along the 25kms of the intertidal zone. When we visited Lorella we loved the parts of the property we visited, none of which were on the intertidal zone, so to close down to all independent camping seems like a bit of a dummy spit if not getting their way to me.

2. Very noticeable by it's absence is any mention of even considering negotiating access with aboriginal people if their land rights are granted. One has to wonder why this might be.

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Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Sunday, Jan 15, 2023 at 07:35

Sunday, Jan 15, 2023 at 07:35
The coastal zone is a significant aspect of this property and there are many people I have met who return to this property annually for up to 6 weeks at a time for fishing and camping. One Victorian couple I was speaking with on my last visit have done so for over 15 years

One has to wonder what the motivation is for the claim :)
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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Sunday, Jan 15, 2023 at 08:17

Sunday, Jan 15, 2023 at 08:17
I imagine the land claim would be motivated by much the same as any other land claim - to reclaim rights over traditional country . Who's cultural rights should take precedence, those who's cultural & practical connections to that country of thousands of years was taken from them, or Pastoralists & tourists who have enjoyed the use of that country for a few decades?

Again I question why in all that documentation there is no mention of negotiating access with those seeking Land rights should the land claim be successful. I can only imagine that it is a) because the ambit claim by Lorella seeks sole rights, and/or b) there is a negative 'history' between Lorella & traditional owners.

Of course this is only speculation on my part.


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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Sunday, Jan 15, 2023 at 17:58

Sunday, Jan 15, 2023 at 17:58
Still not clear, but a little more information can be found here under Lorella, sections 15-20

Lorella Claimants Submissions
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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Monday, Jan 16, 2023 at 08:50

Monday, Jan 16, 2023 at 08:50
The way I read the link posted by Bazooka is that the Lorella Springs Pastoral leaseholders have done a pretty good job of arrogantly ignoring the the land claim, for many years, as though "it would never happen" whilst they continued to 'improve' the land & have had little or nothing to do with the any negotiations around the claim despite clear invitations to them to share, and now that long term attitude is biting them in the bum.

What is unclear is whether the sharing options still remain, or whether arrogance still rules the roost. My gut feeling says the latter. The "Its ours" - all or nothing approach. For the sake of all us who would like the access to that unique country to continue, I can only hope that the hand of reasonableness will remain extended to the Pastoral lessees & that they might take it before it's too late. If they don't, they will still have a potentially viable operation without the coastal access - perhaps that's their fallback position. If so I reckon it's ignorant & they'll be shooting themselves in the foot.

As I suggested earlier I still think that closing down their tourism operation to all except those they have contractual obligations to is a dummy spit, most likely intended to get them some 'last minute leverage' from Tourism NT. If so it is little more than a further display of selfish arrogance & disrespect for the traditional owners and I suspect, unlikely to get them what they want.

From my reading it seems to me that if the Pastoral lessees had entered into negotiations in good faith at an early stage there is a high chance that instead of 'losing' what they have built up they could now be in a position of offering all that they have in recent years - camping, fishing , 4wd'ing etc with the addition of further 'cultural' tourist services which could only enhance what is on offer to tourists.
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Reply By: Member - Siringo - Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 11:03

Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 11:03
Sorry to hear about the change.

What is actually happening? Are you only accepting large tour groups now who pre-book?
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Reply By: Member - Alan P3 - Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 12:00

Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 12:00
So sad.
I'm wondering if part of the reason is the cost and complications associated with public liabilty insurance.
I wish Australia would copy New Zealand and legislate limits on liability for adventure/tourist activities to permit ventures like Lorella Springs to be able to offer experiences without crippling insurance costs and fears of unlimited personal liability.
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Follow Up By: Member - Outback Gazz - Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 15:58

Saturday, Jan 14, 2023 at 15:58
One of the main reasons I shut down my 4wd/motorcycle tour business was insurance premiums.

My insurance broker and good friend explained to me that who would want to insure
"overseas tourists" ....... "riding dirt bikes" ...... "through outback Australian deserts" ??

Premiums were hitting $20,000 a year and it was basically a part time business.

Ya just gotta love the lawyers with their.... if you fall over and break a fingernail we'll sue sue sue mentality !!


Happy safe and don't ever fall over in this country travels

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Reply By: Member - McLaren3030 - Sunday, Jan 15, 2023 at 08:30

Sunday, Jan 15, 2023 at 08:30
Whilst I do not begrudge indigenous people from having a claim to traditional land rites, what I do have difficulty with is that quite a lot of these land rites claims only come after the land has been developed. Whilst this is not always the case, it certainly is in a lot of cases.

In this case, from my understanding, the local indigenous community had no real interest in this area before it was opened up by Rhett and his family. Now that it has become a popular, and might I say profitable piece of land, they are now more interested in it.

Just my opinion of course.

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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Monday, Jan 16, 2023 at 08:01

Monday, Jan 16, 2023 at 08:01
Any suggestion that the land claim at Lorella has only come after the land has been developed is incorrect.

The documents which Tony linked to make reference to a report dated 2002 which recommended that this specific land claim be approved. (Lorella Region Claim No.199). For the report to have reached that stage the initial land claim would have been filed several years earlier than that. Looking further through the report I found that the original claim was filed on 29th May 1997. So a bit over 25 years ago.

The land claim is also not for any part of the Lorella Springs property which has been 'developed' to date. Only the intertidal zone.

This report can be viewed at
https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-958844203/view?partId=nla.obj-959984056#page/n1/mode/2up


The suggestion that a land claim only popped up once Lorella Springs had become popular & profitable in recent times is thus incorrect.

These land rights claims inevitably are very long processes, so much so that it is common for those who have filed the initial claim to have passed away before the final determination is made. It is an incredibly alien & stressful process for those involved, never undertaken lightly. Due to the length of the process I suggest that it is actually rare for any land claims to be made after the land has been 'developed' or 'improved'.









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Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Monday, Jan 16, 2023 at 11:34

Monday, Jan 16, 2023 at 11:34
Macca I guess rightly or wrongly the value has often been added by westerners. It would be interesting to see a comparison of areas that native title claims have been made and their financial value V areas that are considered less significant

In a previous life I had an encounter with a company that was engaged on behalf of the ALC to seek out land to claim in western Sydney of financial benefit and to develop it or use it for leverage against the council to obtain more appropriate land in return for not claiming it.
The motivation was purely financially driven

I am not saying this is typical but I witnessed it first hand in this case.
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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Monday, Jan 16, 2023 at 20:53

Monday, Jan 16, 2023 at 20:53
What sort of land and what was the outcome Alby? If you're wondering about the law this will explain it:

NSW Aborigfinl Land Rights Act 1983
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Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Monday, Jan 16, 2023 at 21:08

Monday, Jan 16, 2023 at 21:08
Thanks for the link Bazooka.
I don’t know the title legal details other than they acquired the land and then proceeded to subdivide it into residential housing blocks and they were sold off to the general public
The link you provided appears to fit with the premise of what took place
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Tuesday, Jan 17, 2023 at 07:42

Tuesday, Jan 17, 2023 at 07:42
From my reading of the original “post” by Rhett, their family bought the land over 40 years ago, so their use of the land outdated the land rites claim by over 15 years. This includes the intertidal zone mentioned by others. Whilst development of this area is sparse, basically just tracks, it is a great place for tourists to get to for fishing etc.

As I stated earlier, I am not against legitimate land title claims from indigenous people over land that has a significant meaning to them.

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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Tuesday, Jan 17, 2023 at 08:21

Tuesday, Jan 17, 2023 at 08:21
Macca, I don't have info when the family bought the crown lease (not the land), but my post was about suggesting that the land claim was not a recent thing brought about by the possibility of profiting from the work done by the lessees, particularly as the claim is only for the intertidal coastal strip.

It irritates me when statements are made about land claims being money grabbing. (Which has been an inference running through this thread). There is zero reason to disbelieve that the Lorella land claim is anything other than 'legitimate'. Without pointing a finger at anyone specifically, my irritation is about such inferences arising suggesting otherwise for no other reason than the fact that it is aboriginal peoples making the claim.

As it is, you have hopefully noted that I posted further down in the thread & said essentially that whatever the situation is between the land claim & the lessees of Lorella that it seems more likely that the issues around closing down operations to all but tour buses is probably the issue which has arisen not from the land claim, but possibly as a result of it. That being the requirement for a tourism licence & all the associated costs which go with that.

If that is so then the issue is focussed, not on the land claim but upon government requirements for a tourism enterprise which has grown beyond 'low impact'.
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Tuesday, Jan 17, 2023 at 13:44

Tuesday, Jan 17, 2023 at 13:44
Hi Cuppa,

I did include in my original statement that “money grabbing” claims are not always the case, or words to that effect.

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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Tuesday, Jan 17, 2023 at 14:09

Tuesday, Jan 17, 2023 at 14:09
You did Macca, which is why I made my response more general & didn't single anyone out in particular.
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Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Tuesday, Jan 17, 2023 at 19:03

Tuesday, Jan 17, 2023 at 19:03
I don’t think anyone is saying it is all about the money in this case because we just don’t know

Just the same it would be naive to to think they ignore that aspect when they consider claims and why wouldn’t they if they have a rightful claim to an area? Any else would do the same


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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Wednesday, Jan 18, 2023 at 07:48

Wednesday, Jan 18, 2023 at 07:48
Does anyone know how to access a list of current Land claims, listed by date of when they were first filed?
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Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Thursday, Jan 19, 2023 at 11:59

Thursday, Jan 19, 2023 at 11:59
I dont know Cuppa but would be interesting to know
Further to that I would be interested to know who instigates and runs the claim ?
Does it need to be a member of the mob connected to that area to establish a claim on their traditional land or does the council do it in broader terms as it deems fit?
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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Thursday, Jan 19, 2023 at 12:15

Thursday, Jan 19, 2023 at 12:15
Alby, If you look through any claim it will have the specific people in who's name the claim is filed on behalf of the people connected to that area, These will be people from the area in question. Of course there are services to help them negotiate what is invariably a hugely complex legal journey, & the land councils are a part of that support service. Land councils cannot themselves initiate claims. I believe that apart from all of the bureaucracy & legal 'baggage' in every claim process that a significant reason why these claims take decades is that built in to all of that red tape & legal mumbo jumbo is a thorough integrity to ensure fairness & justness.
It would be far easier if everyones interests did not need to be fully considered, & if that were the case the sort of populist & often racist criticisms often bandied about (like 'They're gonna take our backyards") would have held up & make any determinations effectively meaningless. (As some would prefer).
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Reply By: Member - bungarra (WA) - Sunday, Jan 15, 2023 at 10:36

Sunday, Jan 15, 2023 at 10:36
Another example of Land Rights completely out of hand and contributing to the breakdown of any chance of this so called "reconciliation".

When is the is country and its law makers going to wake up to itself that these land claims are driving a wedge between Australians. The stupidity of it as the majority fund claims against itself for the minority (< 4%) then "reconciliation." gets further away. And don't even mention a voice in parliament.

Am so glad we had the privilege of visiting Lorella before this situation.

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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Sunday, Jan 15, 2023 at 12:52

Sunday, Jan 15, 2023 at 12:52
The old majority furphy inevitably gets a run on indigenous topics. It's a very poor way of running any society, for obvious reasons.

We often don't actually know what "the majority" thinks on any specific issue - especially one as complex as specific land claims - but broadly Australians supported indigenous land rights in 2015 when this survey was done by a factor of more than two to one (70 to 30%). Keep in mind that respondents often don't have a significant knowledge of the topic they're being surveyed about, and I suspect that given some examples those numbers could change dramatically.

ANUPOLL MARCH 2015
AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC OPINION ON INDIGENOUS ISSUES: INJUSTICE , DISADVANTAGE AND SUPPORT FOR RECOGNITION
"Respondents were asked whether changes in Indigenous policy over the years had gone too far, not far enough or were about right. The three changes identified were land rights and native title, government intervention in Indigenous communities, and government help for Indigenous people.

44 per cent thought that changes to land rights and native title were about right, and 26 per cent thought that they had not gone far enough. [30 percent thought they had gone too far]. One-third (33 per cent) thought that government help for Aboriginal people was about right and 39 per cent that it had not gone far enough. Finally, 36 per cent thought that government intervention in Aboriginal communities was about right and 29 per cent that it had not gone far enough."

Striking the right balance is difficult, and very important. I don't know the details of the Loretta claims but prima facie I can and do sympathise with Rhett and his family.

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Reply By: Member - Wildmax - Sunday, Jan 15, 2023 at 14:53

Sunday, Jan 15, 2023 at 14:53
Very sad to see Rhett.
I'm grateful that we had the opportunity to enjoy Lorella several years ago, having called in initially for a night and stayed on because we couldn't bear to leave. We loved the extensive 4Wdriving, the various delightful swimming options in water holes and springs, and the lovely relaxed atmosphere of the camping areas - and even the home-baked bread!!
Good luck with the change of business direction, even if it has to be with tour bus passengers who don't really get to properly appreciate remote Australia.
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Reply By: Member - Cuppa - Monday, Jan 16, 2023 at 09:15

Monday, Jan 16, 2023 at 09:15
Then again, perhaps Lorella's current situation has less to do with the intertidal zone land claim & more to do with a government expectation that they comply with obtaining a licence for tourist activities like any other tourist operation on pastoral leases??!

In the OP - signed by Rhett & Family this :
"I never aimed to be a big corporation, only a successful small family business.
Fate would have it that Lorella would grow so popular that she became a victim of her own success".

Seemingly relevant to this & from the link posted previously by Bazooka.

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Reply By: GarryR - Tuesday, Jan 17, 2023 at 14:12

Tuesday, Jan 17, 2023 at 14:12
Seen on ABC news 17/01/23 that Lorella Springs confirmed, by the Rhett Family, that it is closed to self drive tourists, but will stay open for organised Tour Groups. (I assume that, that means Tour Companies). The NT tourism government department is try to help with their problem, stating that RED TAPE is the main cause of closure.
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Tuesday, Jan 17, 2023 at 15:50

Tuesday, Jan 17, 2023 at 15:50
Lots of wild speculation in this thread.
1. I see no evidence that the native title claim has anything to do with the closure.
2. I see no evidence that there has NOT been negotiation in good faith from either or both parties re the native title claim.
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Wednesday, Jan 18, 2023 at 07:35

Wednesday, Jan 18, 2023 at 07:35
Good points Peter.

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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Thursday, Jan 19, 2023 at 12:24

Thursday, Jan 19, 2023 at 12:24
I plead guilty Peter, but in mitigation I point out that I moved past that, & posted further on the matter after examining the issues in more detail, with thanks to those who posted 'leads' which allowed me to do so.
See post no. 642632

I think the only connection to the Land claim is that it has now brought Lorellas 'no longer low impact' activities to the attention of the the NT government.
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Thursday, Jan 19, 2023 at 13:13

Thursday, Jan 19, 2023 at 13:13
Further speculation Cuppa?
Personally, having worked on a couple of cattle stations, I would not consider a full blown cattle operation as "low impact" either, but that is just my view.
The most destructive thing I ever did in my life in the bush was to prepare the ground for 28km of new fence and road on a cattle station.

I expect that Lorella will need hundreds of km of new fences and tracks beyond their tourism requirements if it is to become a serious cattle station.
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Follow Up By: OzzieCruiser - Thursday, Jan 19, 2023 at 13:20

Thursday, Jan 19, 2023 at 13:20
Yes there has been nothing in the original statement or in the news reports about the closure that indicate the closure has anything to do with indigenous land rights claims - noting if it had the ABC would definitely have mentioned it.

if I read one of the documents linked above the claim is next to Lorreta Springs (has a border) not on it and Loretta was not included in the consultation process - an issue as cattle on the leases do tend to move across borders and fencing may have had to be installed to stop Lorreta cattle grazing on future aboriginal land.

Yet with no evidence some people have carried on as it is the main issue.

Lets stick with the facts - Lorreta owners have problems with red tape.
Assumption - it is with the rules governing the operation of a tourist park - as most likely the NT Govt and legal indemnity issues.
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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Thursday, Jan 19, 2023 at 13:36

Thursday, Jan 19, 2023 at 13:36
No, Peter, NOT further speculation at all. It's there in black & white, in the land claim documentation, in reference to Lorella's activities (or proposed activities) on the intertidal zone (ITZ).

There are other references to this in the documentation, but for posting here this is the most succinct.

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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Thursday, Jan 19, 2023 at 14:45

Thursday, Jan 19, 2023 at 14:45
.
My "speculation" is that there maybe a 'Final Straw' in this issue.
We may never know.
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