Iron ore isn’t the only valuable resource in the Pilbara, and one tourism operator is determined to take ancient Aboriginal history and the region’s natural beauty to the world.
Ngurranga Tours owner Clinton Walker has been delivering Aboriginal cultural tours for the past four years with the support of the Ngarluma Yindjibarndi Foundation Limited to improve understanding and diversify the economy beyond mining and resources.
He is leveraging off increasing interest in the Pilbara as a tourism destination with things like NYFL’s revitalisation of the historic pearling town of Cossack drawing more and more people.
Walker is a descendant of the Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi people—the traditional owners of the coastal and inland areas of the West Pilbara—and he uses his profound knowledge and spiritual connection to his land to educate those who come on his tours.
He says this is why he wanted to start his own tour company; to share his deep understanding of land and culture to showcase a region rich in Indigenous history.
“People want to come and see these things, but they want the traditional owners to show them," he says.
"So that’s why I decided to get into it, to give them a better understanding of Aboriginal culture and the legacy we’ve left behind through our ancestry."
Walker says it gives him great pride to be able to share the region with others.
“I get a sense of enjoyment and I feel like I’m getting back into my culture where as mining took me away from all of that,” he says.
Access to the regions is set to be improved after Qantas recently announced a 12-month trial of discounted airfares for people living in six regional centres.
Residents in Broome, Kalgoorlie, Karratha, Paraburdoo, Port Hedland and Newman will be eligible for up to a 30 per cent discount on return airfares.
CCI Chief Executive Deidre Willmott says reduced airfares will improve cost of living for residents and business owners, and is a positive step toward boosting tourism in these communities.
“According to the latest Regional Price Index, cost of living prices in the Pilbara region were almost 18 per cent higher than Perth, and the Kimberley region recorded average higher prices of 15 per cent,” she says.
“Any downward pressure on prices will go a long way toward supporting the hip-pocket of regional West Australians which will mean greater investment in the local economy.”
CCI supports the State Government’s inquiry into regional airfares to improve affordability of travel from a business, tourism and social perspective and encourages all airlines to review their flight costs to regional WA.
► WA Works brings you major project and supply chain news from across the state’s key sectors: resources, energy, construction, infrastructure and defence. Find out more about subscribing to WA Works here.