Acknowledgement of Country 

We respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands upon which Defence operates within the Woomera Prohibited Area and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

We also acknowledge the services of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have contributed to the defence of Australia and its national interests.

Traditional Custodians of the Land

The word ‘Woomera’ comes from the Eora people of Sydney. It refers to a spear-throwing device that extends the distance a spear can be thrown. The Woomera Range Complex motto ‘sharpen the spear’ is a reference to this unique Aboriginal invention and acknowledges the significance of the WPA in supporting the development of ADF capabilities.

The Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) encompasses the traditional lands of six Aboriginal groups. Maralinga Tjarutja (MT) and Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yunkunytjatjara (APY) hold almost 30 per cent of the land in the west of the WPA as freehold title granted under South Australian legislation. Four other groups – Antakirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara (AMY), Arabana, Gawler Ranges and Kokatha – hold native title over areas in the WPA.

The history of these  people and their deep ties to the land in the WPA date back over many thousands of years. The WPA contains sites of enduring significance to Aboriginal people, including stone arrangements associated with traditional ceremony and ritual, rock art sites, ceremonial sites, cultural sites manifested in topographical features such as watercourses, and archaeological sites that show how people lived in and used their environment.

Aboriginal people continue their traditions by accessing the WPA for traditional ceremonies, hunting, heritage site protection, and cultural activities. A number of Aboriginal groups have been actively involved in commercial activity in and around the WPA, including in the resources and tourism sectors. Today, the traditional custodians of the WPA mostly live in cities, small towns and settlements around South Australia. They continue to have strong links to their land, an interest in preserving their history and culture in the WPA, and growing an economic and employment base for their communities.