After an 11 year wait, Traditional Owners in the Queensland town of St George have celebrated the opening of a permanent base and cultural hub for elders, young mob and the wider community.

The premises was granted by the Indigenous Land and Sea corporation to Queensland Murray Darling Catchment Limited, a non-for-profit organisation representing eight traditional owner groups in the state’s Northern Murray-Darling Basin catchment region.

Kamilaroi woman and QMDCL chief executive Chandel Eyre said the facilities have opened up a range of opportunities.

“Having this property will enable us to expand our programs and services, apply for grants to run more programs,” she said.

“Having a central hub where our Elders and young people can come together is so important for us and enables our Elders to pass down their cultural knowledge and practices.”

QMDCL are also planning an outdoor yarning circle to start youth outreach programs in St George.

Facilities at QMDCL St George base. Image – Laura Rigney photography.

The benefits extend to QMDCL’s ranger program, who have been working out of a shipping container.

A new shed, kitchen and accommodation block will enable the program to run more efficiently.

“Having a property where we can do maintenance on equipment, make traditional tools, create a bush tucker garden and build facilities to train our new rangers on site will all make a huge difference to running our ranger program,” QMDCL ranger program head William Taylor said.

“It will also help with our planning and communication on projects like our carp trapping program, water sampling, fire management and insect surveillance, which are all important for monitoring the overall health of the Murray-Darling.

“Aboriginal people are very aware that caring for water sources on country is the key to survival, and the health of the Murray Darling is essential not only to them, but to the many communities that surround it.”

The property was handed over on Wednesday.