Eco-resort at Thaawuthunngganha

Located about 100km inland from Karratha on the Manuwarra (Red Dog) Highway, Millstream-Chichester National Park, famous for its picturesque mountains and large permanent freshwater pools, is a highly significant area for the Yindjibarni people, who were granted exclusive native title over a large area of land at Millstream in 2017. The park also forms an important tourism link between Murujuga National Park on the Burrup Peninsula and the iconic Karijini National Park in the inland Pilbara. 

Recognising an opportunity to diversify the regional economy and support tourism and new jobs in the region, the Commission first provided $247,000 for studies to enable the development of an ecotourism precinct in Millstream-Chichester National Park under the State Government’s Naturebank program, in 2011. Initial studies focussed on sites near Python Pool, however, the area’s topography and potential for flooding proved these to be unsuitable. 

With the agreement of relevant government authorities, further investigations occurred at Palm Pool, nearer to Millstream Homestead and the park’s main camping and day visit areas. On completion of these studies, a call for expressions of interest was issued through the Naturebank program. Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC) successfully secured the option to plan a retreat at the site, signing a lease with Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) in early 2020.

Commenting on the lease-signing, YAC stated its intention that the eco-resort would provide new on-country employment opportunities for Yindjibarndi people and provide the basis for them to share and educate national and international visitors about Yindjibarndi culture. 

In late 2020, the Commission secured $144,310 in regional development funding to support planning and cost estimates to inform the business case for YAC’s proposed eco retreat, with a co-contribution provided by the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC). 

The Commission continues to support creation of the eco-resort forming part of the steering group with YAC members, ILSC, DBCA and consultants. In early June, the project steering group and Yindjibarndi people held an on-site planning day by Palm Pool after which, YAC Chief Executive Officer Michael Woodley advised that the location being considered for the resort was Thaawuthunngganha, or West Palm Pool.