The idea for an Aboriginal map of the Lake Eyre Basin was initiated at the second Lake Eyre Basin Aboriginal forum, held at Mount Serle in South Australia in 2006. Aboriginal Forums were an initiative of the Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum which sought to bring Aboriginal people of the basin together to exchange information and views on the issues relevant to the Lake Eyre Basin. These Forums were held in various locations throughout the Lake Eyre Basin since 2004.
The 2006 Aboriginal Forum proposed a poster featuring the basin as an Aboriginal landscape using information already in the public domain, to complement the existing Lake Eyre Basin poster map. The Lake Eyre Basin Community Advisory Committee fully supported this initiative, which was later endorsed by the Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum.
The aim of the map was to highlight Aboriginal culture and heritage in the Lake Eyre Basin. The Birdsville Aboriginal Forum in 2009 created an important guiding framework for the map which focussed on the extensive historical trade routes that criss-crossed the basin, the post settlement contact period and the contemporary stories of Aboriginal people
At the 2011 Tibooburra Aboriginal Forum initial concept designs for the map were presented. Forum attendees workshopped the concepts at length, providing guidelines for the information they wanted to see included on the map, including stories/songlines, trade routes, tribes/language areas, rivers, creeks, other important water places and Aboriginal managed lands. Participants share their knowledge generously and offered their input and preferences for the content and design of the map. Aboriginal people from the basin agreed to place their portrait images onto the map, highlighting the enduring connection of Aboriginal people within this region.
A key outcome of the workshop was a list of guiding principles for the map’s development ensuring that all relevant cultural protocols were observed and that the original intent of the map was honoured throughout the design process.
An advanced draft was presented to a wider audience of Lake Eyre Basin stakeholders at the 2013 Lake Eyre Basin Conference in Port Augusta. Between these major stakeholder events consultation occurred with individual Aboriginal people and Aboriginal representative groups (eg Land Councils, Prescribed Bodies corporate).
Revision, editing and fine tuning of the graphic design elements of the map were required before the final consultation process could take place. The graphic design work was performed by Peter Campbell design and consultation was undertaken by Curijo Pty Ltd who worked closely with the Steering Committee.
Consultation went well and after final endorsement by the Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum to publicly release the map, the map was launched in Alice Springs, Northern Territory in 2018.
Sponsorship for the map was provided by the Australian, Queensland, South Australian and Northern Territory governments, Georgina Diamantina Cooper Aboriginal Group, BHP Billiton, Santos, South Australian Arid Lands and Territory Natural Resource Management.
The Lake Eyre Basin ‘Aboriginal Way’ Map has been many years in the making, having involved several hundred people in its production.
The result is a unique presentation of the intimate and enduring connection of Aboriginal people with the landscape, water source sand ecosystems of the Lake Eyre Basin, and a celebration of this majestic landscape which has sustained Aboriginal cultures and communities for tens of thousands of years.