Ashmore Reef information

To: Chris <>
Subject: Ashmore Reef information
From: Carl Clifford <>
Date: Tue, 5 Oct 2010 14:20:39 +1100
Hi Chris,

I just had a look at the CLC web site and have got their side of the
Princess Parrot fiasco. The CLC has issued a press release on the
matter, the content of which I have posted below. As you can see, some birders did illegally enter the Aboriginal lands. It would also seem
that the owners were concerned with environmental issues as well.

"The quest for princess parrot trampling Aboriginal land"

The Central Land Council, after consultation with traditional owners
of the Haasts Bluff Aboriginal Land Trust, has knocked back a number
of permit requests for access to the Trust.

The requests were made by keen bird watchers after the Princess Parrot was reportedly seen on the Trust.

Traditional owners approved the first request they received with
conditions but have since refused up to about 20 additional
applications that quickly followed.

The CLC has consulted traditional owners for the area on the Haasts
Bluff Trust, where the parrot is said to have been seen, over the
applications. However, the applications were refused when it was
discovered that some bird watchers had broken the law by taking an
estimated one day’s drive into the Trust without their permission, not once, but at least twice.

Traditional owners were also concerned about the large number of
applications that were coming in to access a fragile, arid environment.

Land owners are already dealing with a significant introduced weed
management issue in the area and are concerned about further
environmental damage arising from a high volume of unregulated vehicle access.

There are also many sacred sites in the area of considerable

Visitors blindly walking around sacred sites and possibly accidentally damaging them can cause great offense and hurt to traditional owners
and leaves the perpetrators open to being charged under the Land
Rights Act.

The trust is Aboriginal freehold land, and like any freehold land, the owners have the right to refuse entry to people if they wish.

Traditional owners for the area in question have been quite adamant
that the lack of respect shown by some of the bird watchers in
choosing to break the law and travel around the trust without
permission and the weight of numbers of people and vehicles that would be accessing this environmentally and culturally sensitive area has
seen them take this decision.

While the level of interest has been overwhelming for traditional
owners on this occasion, the CLC has received constructive approaches from people inside the bird watching fraternity interested in
establishing a more manageable process, something the CLC is open to

Watarrka and West MacDonnell national parks and Tnorala (Gosse) Bluff Conservation Reserve are also reported to be possible sites to see the parrot and places where permits are not required to access. End Quote.

The release can also be seen at


Carl Clifford

On 05/10/2010, at 12:25 PM, Chris wrote:

Hi Carl,

I'm not aware of any birders who went out onto Aboriginal land without permission? Have you heard something concrete that suggests otherwise? The original birders that went out had permits and explicit permission from the TOs. As far as I'm aware once permit applications were rejected people made other plans and respected the system,
despite disappointment.

Perhaps the author for the article chose their words poorly (I haven't read it yet, I'm out birding) however I think the suggestion that some adaptability on the part of the CLC and the TOs at the time could have led to a win - win situation for all concerned is a reasonable one. I for one would have happily paid $100 for permission to travel the 15km up the road needed to see the birds instead of dipping.


Sent from my iPhone

On 05/10/2010, at 10:56, Carl Clifford <> wrote:


Birders are "banned" from entering all private property, unless
invited or otherwise, by the owners. This whole situation has
stemmed from birders entering private property without invitation.
Lets be honest, those birders perpetrated a crime, trespass on
private lands. It is no different than if a bunch of strangers set
up camp in ones back yard. Bigger back yard, same principle. I know what I would do if I found some-one camped in my back yard.

I think the traditional owners have behaved in a restrained manner
and hopefully over time a protocol can be worked out for speedier
processing of permits for entering Aboriginal lands. Unfortunately, we, as birders, now have a bit of lost ground to regain in the

Carl Clifford

On 05/10/2010, at 9:34 AM, Simon Mustoe wrote:

If there are connotations of racism or 'blame' in this article, I
guess it's got nothing to do with birding or birders. So putting
those other matters aside and just looking at it's mention that the indigenous community has lost out - isn't this interesting to birders?

Since the Princess Parrot debacle, this is the first time that
anyone in the Australian media has questioned whether banning
birders outright was actually the best option. That would seem to
me, to be a very reasonable hypothesis. So on that point, I think
this should be of interest to birders and at least someone has had
the gumption to mention it.

Remember, this article was written by a journalist ... not by Bird-O - so don't shoot the messenger ; ) ... this is me ducking!

All the best,



Simon Mustoe
Tel: +61 (0) 405220830 | Skype simonmustoe | Email 

Visit BIRD-O at
Follow BIRD-O on Twitter
Like BIRD-O on Facebook? Visit!/ pages/Bird-O/117732794921095
Email BIRD-O at 

Date: Tue, 5 Oct 2010 07:31:15 +0930
Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Ashmore Reef information
To: ; ; 

If the NT News really wanted a more accurate target they should be looking
towards the government department that helped sink my relatives'
project on Baby Dreaming. For example, elders were told (as was I) that they needed a "Certificate 4 in training" (cost - several thousand dollars
for each person), to teach particular skills to others.

Also, a Scandinavian birding tour operator offered the community a donation
of a couple of thousand dollars to train residents to show visitors
sandstone birds.  My relatives were very excited.  But the money
had to go
through a birding or conservation organisation. A Birds Australia
told me it was 'too little' to be worth their while.  And then
there's the
debacle of the latest effort to train Indigenous bird guides in
There's plenty of blame to go around, but very little of it should be
directed at Aboriginal people.

on 5/10/10 7:15 AM, Bill Stent at  wrote:

Simon, I'm not sure that "useful" is quite the word that I'd use
to describe
the NT News article.

"Racist" might be closer.  Possibly "patronising" if I were
feeling more

Not a good hook to get readers to Bird-o.


From: "Simon Mustoe" <>
Sent: Tuesday, October 05, 2010 8:28 AM
To: <>
Subject: [Birding-Aus] Ashmore Reef information



Ashmore reef trips are nearly upon us so we've put together
for you, on this remarkable place. If you visit Bird-O and go to "Birding
REGIONS" in the top menu, you'll find access to a page about
Ashmore Reef
and the NW Shelf. You can see images from past trips, read about its history and the birds that have been seen there. There's also new article
which summarises the birding highlights from the last 14 trips and
information on how you can plan your trip to Ashmore Reef next


There's another regional page set up for Central Aus. This is a
way to
support our growing birding tour industry so email us if you're
in being part.


Also of interest, an article in NT News titled "Outback has Unseen
Bucks" - a useful follow-up to the recent Princess Parrot debarcle.

To keep updated with this news, follow us on Twitter, Facebook or sign up
for the newsletter.

Happy birding!



Simon Mustoe
Tel: +61 (0) 405220830 | Skype simonmustoe | Email

Visit BIRD-O at
Follow BIRD-O on Twitter
Like BIRD-O on Facebook? Visit!/pages/Bird-O/117732794921095
Email BIRD-O at 

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