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Members of the Birrigan Gargle Local Aboriginal Land Council have voted to sell the old Gorman’s restaurant, which was the subject of a land rights claim approved in November 2018. Image: Geoff Helisma

Old Gorman’s restaurant to be sold

Geoff Helisma|

What’s happening with the old Gorman’s restaurant at the eastern end of Yamba Bay has been a perplexing question among some Yamba citizens over recent times.

On Monday evening of February 10 that question was answered, when 80 per cent of those attending a Birrigan Gargle Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) voted in favour of selling the building.

The land council’s CEO, James Lamerton, said the building and surrounding land was the subject of a land claim, which was lodged with the registrar on September 3, 2014 (Claim 38016).

Mr Lamerton said that Minister for Lands Paul Toole “determined that Claim 38016 was claimable crown land and granted the claim in favour of Birrigan Gargle LALC, on or around November 12, 2018”.

“A certificate of title was subsequently issued to and in the name of Birrigan Gargle LALC, which now owns the site freehold,” Mr Lamerton said.

However, Mr Lamerton said that Mr Toole “refused a claim on the surrounding land (Claim 36811), as he was satisfied that the surrounding land was being lawfully used and occupied for public recreation and therefore not claimable crown land”.

Mr Lamerton said the land council would soon have the property professionally valued and then “consult with a real estate agent to discuss options” regarding its sale.

“It’s likely to be auctioned or put out to tender,” he said.

He said that a fence would soon be erected around the site (possibly before the paper’s publication).

“We’re deeply concerned about the state of building and its integrity due to decay and some of its construction, which add to our concerns regarding public safety,” he said.

“We agree with the council that the building should be levelled.”

The land council also backed the sale of a small piece of land it owns on the corner of Beach and Campbell lanes.

“It’s far too small to build on,” he said. “It’s a part of the rationalisation of our landholdings, in order to support sustainable developments in the future.”

Note: The difference between ‘land rights’ and ‘native title’ determinations are often confused.

In legal terms, the Australian Government’s Attorney General’s Department puts it this way: “There are fundamental differences between land rights and native title.

“Land rights are rights created by the Australian, state or territory governments.

“Land rights usually comprise of a grant of freehold or perpetual lease title to Indigenous Australians.

“By contrast, native title arises as a result of the recognition, under Australian common law, of pre-existing Indigenous rights and interests according to traditional laws and customs.

“Native title is not a grant or right created by governments.”

The Mabo High Court decision in 1992 was the first time Australian law recognised “the traditional communal, group or individual rights and interests which Aboriginal people have in land and water, where Aboriginal people have continued to exercise their rights and interests in accordance with traditional law and custom pre-dating European settlement”, a NSW Aboriginal Land Council factsheet states.