Please note: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices or names of deceased persons in photographs, film, audio recordings or printed material.

Some material may contain terms that reflect authors’ views, or those of the period in which the item was written or recorded, but may not be considered appropriate today. These views are not necessarily the views of AIATSIS. While the information may not reflect current understanding, it is provided in an historical context.


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Looking to the future

Joint management of the park

The handback of 1985 ushered in a new era of joint management for the park. Traditional owners working with the Commonwealth brought together cultural and scientific knowledge and experience, different governance processes, and interwove two law systems - Piranpa (Western) law and Tjukurpa.

This new form of management meant learning from each other, respecting each other's cultures and finding ways to recognise different perspectives of seeing and interpreting the landscape and its people.

Today Tjukurpa guides the development and interpretation of park policy. Through consultation with Anangu and a wide range of individuals and organisations associated with the park this informs how the park is managed.

Anangu are consulted about all park programs and employed as consultants, rangers and contractors through the Central Land Council joint management officer and the Mutitjulu community liaison officer.

Meanwhile park staff undertakes day-to-day patrols, maintenance and operations, interpretation and education programs. These programs care for the natural and cultural resources of the park, land and cultural management projects, day-to-day administration and staff training.

The traditional owners enjoy a reciprocal relationship with Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (Nguraritja). While they have looked after the land the land has looked after them for over one thousand generations.

Many park areas have enormous spiritual and cultural importance to Nguraritja. This includes Uluru-Kata Tjuta, which have become major symbols of Australia. The World Heritage listed area is considered to have outstanding universal value.

To protect that value the Nguraritja and Parks Australia share decision-making for the park's management. The management plan sets out how its cultural landscape while embracing the challenges, building on lessons learnt and observing the good will of the joint management partners in continuing the journey together.

Visitors to the park are often interested in its day-to-day management. This includes the internationally recognised joint management arrangements.

In 1999, a group of Aboriginal traditional owners of Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park sat down in the sand and began drawing pictures of how they might preserve their cultural information.

Six years later they came up with a digital system that observed all cultural protocols, overcame language differences and was in demand from the Kimberly to Port Augusta, and from Vanuatu to the USA.

These moves into the digital space to record traditional owner's culture have continued to expand. More than 80 rock art sites under threat were documented while a multimedia interactive database has been established to record a rich heritage handed down not in written form, but in Anangu songs, dances, stories and relationships.

Western technology has met Anangu cultural needs in the best traditions of joint management.

Craig Woods, Senior Cultural Advisor, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

The Way Forward


AIATSIS acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, culture and community.

We pay our respects to elders past and present.