ANTWERP’S Ebenezer Mission site will return to its traditional owners on Thursday.
The National Trust of Victoria will transfer its freehold interest in the Ebenezer Mission site to native title holders Barengi Gadjin Land Council Aboriginal Corporation.
Ebenezer Mission was gazetted in 1861 as the Lake Hindmarsh Aboriginal Reserve and closed in 1904.
The original site was several hectares but now measures 0.8 hectares and contains remnants of a church, cemetery and mission buildings including the kitchen, dormitory and toilet block.
The National Trust managed the site from 1968 to 1991, assuming committee of management status for the Crown land reserve and freehold ownership of the balance of the site.
But in 1991 the Crown land reservation was revoked and Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative bought the allotment as freehold land.
Barengi Gadjin has managed the site on behalf of Goolum Goolum and the National Trust for the past few years.
The land council has a commitment from Goolum Goolum to receive its part of the mission site. Barengi Gadjin chairwoman Janine Coombs said the handover was an important step forward.
“Ebenezer Mission and this land is very important to the traditional owners, Barengi Gadjin Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, and our members,’’ she said.
“Barengi Gadjin Land Council Aboriginal Corporation has had a long and prosperous partnership with the National Trust of Victoria and we look forward to this partnership continuing.’’
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Jeanette Powell will join in the hand-over ceremony at the site on Thursday.
National Trust of Victoria chairman Graeme Blackman and Ms Coombs will also attend.
The event will include tours of the site, a smoking ceremony and dance performances.
As part of the handover, the National Trust will provide a document Report on Ebenezer Mission Station.
The document is a review of the trust’s involvement with the site from the mid-1960s to 2013.
Thursday also marks the eighth anniversary since the Barengi Gadjin Land Council became native title holders.