From the Newsroom

The Ngerrie Local Aboriginal Land Council have been granted the freehold title on a vacant property on Crown Land on Duke Street, Grafton after a claim under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act. Image: Rodney Stevens

Grafton land claim granted

Rodney Stevens


A vacant house and on Crown Land with river views in Grafton will return to the local Aboriginal community ownership after a successful claim by the local Aboriginal Land Council.

In June 2023, the Grafton Ngerrie Local Aboriginal Land Council lodged a land claim on a 1200 square metre block of Crown Land on Duke Street, Grafton, which was granted last week.

The future use of the Grafton Ngerrie Local Aboriginal Land Council LALC’s freehold site will be determined after the LALC works with the community and Clarence Valley Council to decide how the property will be used.

Grafton Ngerrie Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO Jerry Deschamps said the Duke Street property holds a lot of potential.

“It has a beautiful, large house overlooking the Clarence River with a functioning kitchenette,” he said.

“We are optimistic we could one day open an authentic ‘bush tucker’ restaurant, which would offer employment opportunities for the local Aboriginal community while also allowing our people to connect with their culture.

“As CEO of Grafton Ngerrie LALC, I wish to express sincere thanks for the positive actioning of the land claim system.

“This land will go a long way to helping our local community thrive.”

Crown Lands Executive Director of Aboriginal Land Strategy Michael Ramalli said it was a great example of how community outcomes can be delivered through the realisation of Aboriginal land rights.

“The return of this land to the Grafton Ngerrie LALC will ensure this important site can be put to good use, both for local Aboriginal groups and the community at large,” he said.

“The returning of land to local Aboriginal land councils can help support social, economic and cultural outcomes.”

Under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council and Local Aboriginal Land Councils have a right to lodge land claims on Crown land.

Land claims must then be assessed against non-discretionary statutory criteria in the Act, including whether the land was lawfully used or occupied at the time of the claim, or was needed for an essential public purpose.

At the time of the land claim, the Duke Street property was vacant.

The Act recognises the effects of past government decisions which resulted in the amount of land set aside for Aboriginal people progressively reduced without compensation, and created a system by which some unused Crown land could be returned to Aboriginal ownership.