Walgett farmer to “give back” family property to traditional Kamilaroi owners

Peter Garrett would be so proud.

15 March, 2015.  14:03

ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact

A WALGETT FARMER has decided to return his property to the land’s traditional owners, the Kamilaroi people.

In a historical first, Roland Gilbert of “Indooroopilly Downs” Carinda, says he plans to walk off the farm at the end of this year in a walk-in-walk-out agreement.

Roland Gilbert is giving his property back to its rightful owners, as per Peter Garret’s instruction. PHOTO: Hungerford Daily Mail

Mr Gilbert revealed to The Advocate this afternoon that he thinks it’s time to go.

“Last year, I had a few paddocks of clover and short summer grasses that were coming away after the last bit of rain we had,”

“Locusts ate that in a day,”

“Anywhere where it’s pasture improved, probably 1500 acres, basically went in an afternoon,”

“Why should I even bother? I’m 67 now and I can’t put up with this anymore.”

Roland Gilbert's Carinda property is so dry, the trees packed up and left. PHOTO: NASA
Roland Gilbert’s Carinda property is so dry, the trees packed up and left. PHOTO: NASA

Roland’s story is a similar one to many primary producers around the country.

Over 60% of NSW is in drought – with farmers receiving little assistance from anyone.

“The drought’s going into its third year in a row, which is unprecedented since records began in 1876, and we have farmers across the shire on their knees,” he said

“People are almost too embarrassed to ask anymore if it has rained.”

With the NSW election just around the corner, some farmers are surprised that the politicians haven’t dusted off their Akubras and come out for a look.

“We used to have a good bunch of pollies out here,” Gilbert said.

“A good crop of ‘Nashos’ and an independent here or there – those were the days,”

Ralph Hunt AO. Loved by many, missed by all. PHOTO: Trove.gov
Ralph Hunt AO. Loved by many, missed by all. PHOTO: Trove.gov.au

“Ralph Hunt from the old Gwydir electorate used to come up at Easter time for a bit of a look about,”

“He’d bring a carton for lunch, have one or two and leave the rest for you – I miss old Ralph,”

Mr Hunt was Member for Gwydir for almost exactly 20 years.

The image in the mind of the average voter of financially destitute farmers — rather than asset-rich, multi-million-dollar business owners — has meant agriculture assistance programs are a favourite of political parties seeking votes at election times.

Not this time, it seems.

Roland said the reality of “giving away” the property has yet to dawn on him as his family has owned the dust bowl since 1879.

“It’s nigh on impossible to turn a profit anymore,” said the 67-year-old.

“Let alone support a family,”

“So I thought I’d give it back to the Indigenous people – because it’s got no use for me now.”

The landmark decision for a property owner to essentially “give away” his property to the traditional owners could be a growing trend, according to Cecil Rennie, CEO of the Southern Land Council of Australia.

Mr Rennie says one use for properties such as Mr Gilbert’s could be for farming education and training of Aboriginal youth.

“It’s very nice for Roland to consider the traditional owners before some agent bloke in town,” said Mr Rennie.

“Having a property like this one could help change lives of the young Aboriginal Peoples,”

“Just as long as that Mick Mundine don’t come up and try to build units on it like he doing to The Block.”

19 Responses to "Walgett farmer to “give back” family property to traditional Kamilaroi owners"

  1. Eric   March 16, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    What an idiot, maybe the aborigines will look up the descendants of the caveman and leave it to them.

    • Janis   March 17, 2015 at 11:50 am

      Sounds like you are direct descendent of the caveman yourself Eric.

    • Kylie   March 17, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      We are all, in fact, descendants of your so called “caveman”.

    • Lewis Smart   March 17, 2015 at 7:37 pm

      Is this meant to be ironic?

  2. joan mackenzie   March 17, 2015 at 9:55 am

    Wow, that is the best heart warming story have read in a long long time…The spirit is in the Land, there will be benefits all round. You are my hero!

  3. Bevan   March 17, 2015 at 11:23 am

    What about the pigmies that painted the Bradshaw paintings here over 50000 years ago

    • Lewis Smart   March 18, 2015 at 7:45 am

      That interpretation of the Bradshaw paintings is not well substantiated.

  4. Janis   March 17, 2015 at 11:49 am

    While this is a good thing, an overdue thing…I can help but feel if the land was worth something to him, he wouldnt be giving it away, because its worthless, after his family has raped and pillaged the earth for over a hundred years and can no longer exploit it, he is graciously returning to traditional owners. Imagine what a gesture it would be to give land back that is vital and productive. Imagine.

    • Ted   March 17, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      What sort of pompous jackass are you Janis? You and your ancestors have probably eaten the produce of this property over that same time period. So many narrow minded fools these days that don’t know a hard days work or what life is like outside their suburban confines.

    • Skye   March 18, 2015 at 12:01 am

      Exactly what I was thinking.

  5. Noelene Leonard   March 17, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    I think its a better idea than loosing it to the big banks, and be put off your land. And then they sell it to Japanese or Chinese. And the others who buy are the big mining companies. Like their trying to do to the aboriginal community’s in Perth. Mining companies want the land. I feel sorry for the farmers and their families. Alot of farmers and families in Winton have had this happen too. Some had no where to live. They stayed and fought as long as they could.
    They got loans and even though they were paying them and not behind they still lost their farms. Apparently in small print if because of drought etc the property because devalued and the banks come in and for close.
    So to Roland Gilbert and his family I prayer that a new door will open for their future.

  6. Sam   March 17, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    Spot on Janis…

  7. Deborah Stobie   March 17, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    good on you Roland,

  8. Sharon   March 17, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    Roland Gilbert is setting a precedent, maybe there are people out there that may follow suit throughout Australia. The land may have been raped n pillaged and now have no use fir his family, but recognition of ORIGINAL ownership goes along way. This kind gesture will go a long way to re-create the bond that has been list by the ORIGINAL people of Australia!!
    Thank you again Mr Gilbert and it’s the like of Eric’s in this country that enable inter-generational racial views that cripple this beautiful country.

  9. Rowan   March 18, 2015 at 3:06 am


    Harsh of you to look at this situation from a pessimistic angle, he is giving back his property, trying to make a wrong a right, anyone willing to give all they have for this reason should be acknowledged and given some degree of respect. I’m tired of people that scorn the would haves could haves, fact is he is doing something with everything he has, another thing how has a drought his cause in taping the land. Most farmers I know have a respect for the land and its traditional owners, if this is your land then I have you ever thought o walk away from the monetary system and live traditionally off the land or perhaps if this is not your land walk away from your home as it is right now and leave the milk in the fridge!

  10. Janine Holland   March 18, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    This can only be a good thing for a retiring farmer. The bonds and relationships you forge with the local descendants of the traditional people of Walgett may renew your spirit and keep you close to the country your spirit came from as well. You may come to love the land you worked with a different perspective and may even discover a new role and calling for yourself in the next decades of your life. Good luck to all of you with good and honest hearts.

  11. PuddinHead   March 18, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    I reading Roland Gilberts story I think we have found our next “Australian of the Year”.

    Um.. Even if he is a fictitious fuckwit invented
    by some really funny blokes!

  12. lorae davis   March 19, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Well if its no use and cant benefit him or anyone else as the productivity is gone but what are the aboriginals gonna do with it? Its not like they are gonna start harvesting one day when the rains come.
    Its like in America where they give the Indians land that can only grow salt bushes.

  13. Brianno   March 29, 2016 at 7:19 am

    Saves paying the rates too 🙂


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