Multiple bids for SA salt lake fall over

Three Aboriginal groups have failed in competing claims over Australia’s second biggest salt lake, the 250km Lake Torrens in central South Australia.

The Full Court of the Federal Court this month dismissed separate appeals by the Kokatha People, the Adnyamathanha People and the Barngarla People against previous unsuccessful court bids.

In a majority decision, the court upheld a decision rejecting their claims to the lake, which the original trial judge noted was “unsuited to long-term occupation, save for Andamooka Island”.

The Aboriginal groups had made competing and overlapping Native Title claims to Lake Torrens.

Each already had Native Title consent determinations over separate areas of the shores and surrounding land  — the Kokatha Uwankara People to the west, the Adnyamathanha People to the east and the Barngarla People to the south-east.

The original trial judge found the Kokatha People’s claimed rights to Lake Torrens itself were contemporary and not traditional, the Adnyamathanha People had not established an uninterrupted connection and there were concerns over the credibility of evidence from the Barngarla People.


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