The NSW Government has granted an Aboriginal land claim on the Far South Coast.
The Eden Local Aboriginal Land Council will take ownership of a 3,600-square-metre site at Imlay Street following the resolution of the land claim lodged in 2021.
The former Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre site was owned by Crown Lands, who sublet the site to residential, hospitality and commercial tenants.
In 2020, the building was closed following building condition assessment reports finding it presented a serious safety risk to tenants and visitors to the site and was beyond serviceable repair.
But since the building was pulled down in 2021, Under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983, Local Aboriginal Land Councils and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council have a right to lodge land claims on Crown land.
Chairman of the Eden Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC), BJ Cruse, told East Coast Radio he is pleased to see a positive resolution for this land.
“It’s a good win for the Aboriginal community and we acknowledge and show gratitude to Minister for Lands and Property, Steve Kamper, because all lands that are granted have to receive the Minister’s final sign off,” Cruse said.
“I wish to express sincere appreciation for the positive actioning of the land claim system and the granting of such a significant parcel of land that is going to aid in the advancement of Aboriginal people and assist in closing the gap initiatives,” Cruse said.
As for what the Eden LALC will do with the land, Mr Cruse said they will work with specialists as well as Bega Valley Shire Council to evaluate the site and will likely look to build a retail zone, that could include restaurants and take away shops to rent out.
“We will see what potential the site has, given all the other activities at the wharf but we might be able to put back a new building with more space for shops and food outlets,” Cruse said.
“The Eden LALC has adequate building space to meet our own needs, so we will be looking to put something in there that can generate some us some income through renting out a space that can satisfy the needs of community business operators and visitors to our region and country.”
Minister for Lands and Property Steve Kamper said it’s a great example of how community outcomes can be delivered through the realisation of Aboriginal land rights.
“The return of this land to the Eden Local Aboriginal Land Council will ensure the future of this important site can be put to productive use for the benefit of the local Aboriginal community and the wider Eden community.”
Member for Bega Dr Michael Holland said it was great news for the community.
“I am pleased to see a positive resolution for this land, delivering an outcome for the people of Eden that I trust will allow the full potential of this location to be realised.”