Australia

Tourism, cattle tycoons, here’s your chance


By ERWIN CHLANDA

The best way towards Closing the Gap is trading oneself out of misery. Start a business. Get into the fast lane.

That, in a nutshell, is the view of Bobby Abbott and partner Mary Tupou (at right). They are already on their way, as the managers of the Ormiston Gorge caravan park and coffee shop, and have recently acquired a business in Alice Springs.

But Mr Abbott says despite the assets his clan can put on the table, via their Taarna Enterprises Aboriginal Corporation, investors are not beating a path to their door: Approaches to two major corporations, one in tourism and one in cattle, have yet to be replied to.

Mr Abbott, member of a prominent Western Arrernte family, and Ms Tupou say the essential by-product of launching into enterprises is creating a self-reliant future for young Aboriginal people.

Pastoralism is a job about which many Indigenous people speak with pride: They or their ancestors, in less than a generation, became some of the world’s best ringers.

So what does the corporation have to offer?

A freehold location, almost 100 hectares, in the magnificent West MacDonnell Ranges national park, a few hundred metres south of the sealed road to Glen Helen resort, which is 20 km to the west. Ormiston Gorge is some 20 km to the north.

A hill, earmarked for a six star hotel (modesty isn’t in Mr Abbott’s vocabulary), offers a view to iconic Mt Sonder.

And most important asset, says Mr Abbott, is a cohort of young people determined to break the dependence on generations-long welfare.

What’s needed, as Mr Abbott sees it, is to replace the hypocritical approach to developing Indigenous commerce: “You call a meeting. You transport people there. You pay meeting fees. You take a photo from behind. You serve lunch. Nothing happens.”

PHOTO at top: It’s a small start but it’s a start: Containers and a row of tents are in place at the site for which Bobby Abbott and partner Mary Tupou have big plans: It all will start with a pottery and ceramics studio with a kiln where Aboriginal artists will work and sell their creations. Below: The view to Mt Sonder.



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