• Traditional Owners say they want to protect sacred sites on the Jubilee Downs property. (Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation)Source: Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation
Yi-Martuwarra Ngurrara people say they are disappointed by the sale of Jubilee Downs station on their traditional lands in Western Australia's Kimberley to billionaire Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest.
Keira Jenkins

10 Jul 2020 - 2:24 PM  UPDATED 10 Jul 2020 - 2:31 PM

Mining magnate Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest has outbid Traditional Owners to purchase two cattle stations near Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia.

The billionaire bought the two adjoining pastoral leases Jubilee Downs and Quanbun Downs in WA's Kimberley region, for more than $30 million, bestingĀ Traditional Owners who offered $25 million.

The sale has prompted Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation, which represents Yi-Martuwarra Ngurrara Traditional Owners to write to Aboriginal Affairs and Lands Minister Ben Wyatt, asking him to withhold consent to the sale.

"We are concerned the sale of the Jubilee pastoral lease is proceeding without formal resolution of the lessee's access to infrastructure on the stock route," the letter read.

"...Our concerns are now heightened due to the forthcoming sale of the property."

The Yi-Martuwarra Ngurrara people won native title over the area in 2018, after a six year battle. They have non-exclusive or 'shared' rights over the stations.

Last week, they said they felt they'd been pushed aside from the sale process.

Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Peter Murray said Traditional Owners wanted to buy the property to protect sacred sites on Country.

"That was the main focus, we were going to turn it into conservation management, to protect those sites," he told the ABC.

"We thought we were in the best position, being the Traditional Owners.

"We feel that we've been pushed aside too quick."

'Swept from under us'

Mr Murray said he'd received a call from Mr Forrest to introduce himself, following news of the sale.

One of the Traditional Owners, Yanunijarra vice-chair Anthony McLarty, told the ABC he was disappointed by the sale.

"We have plans for this land but we can't compete with billionaires who can pay more than the working value of these properties," he said.

Mr McLarty said he was worried about Yi-Martuwarra Ngurrara people's access to Country if the sale is approved.

"There are a lot of concerns for our mob," he said.

"For a long time we've struggled, and here, the perfect opportunity to do something unique for our people, and it's been swept from clean under us."

In a statement, Mr Forrest said he was looking forward to working "with and for" the Traditional Custodians.

"We recognise the Yi-Martuwarra have been the guardians of this sacred Country for tens of thousands of years," the statement said.

"We very much look forward to working with their local Elders and communities to ensure access, and to preserve and protect significant and sacred sites."

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