In the debate about caravan parks and ski beaches on Murray Bridge's riverfront, one group of voices has been forgotten, says Clyde Rigney.
Pomberuk Le:wunanangk, now known as Hume Reserve, has been important to the Ngarrindjeri people for centuries, and a town camp remained there – outside the boundary of white Murray Bridge – until 1943.
The traditional owners were not anti-development, said Mr Rigney, chief executive of the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority.
But he said the Murray Bridge council had promised, in several legal agreements, to account for the wishes of the Ngarrindjeri when planning the site's future.
"With the KNY agreement we have with the Rural City of Murray Bridge, this area – the railway land and Hume Reserve – specifically identitied that for any potential development and interest shown in the space, Ngarrindjeri want to come to the table," he said.
"What a lot of people don't consider is it's only in recent times Ngarrindjeri have had a voice in this process.
"Back when these areas were developed, that was not something we were involved in.
"Other people have frustrations about how slowly things have developed, but for us it's exciting."
He hoped the reserve could once again become a useful community space that would create jobs and add to the local economy.
A consultation of the Ngarrindjeri people, facilitated by Jensen Planning and supported by a $10,000 council grant, is ongoing.
Once it was finished, Mr Rigney said, he would be happy to share some concepts with the public.
"How do we remediate the wetland site, how do we bring life back to the area through ngatjis (totems) breeding, how do we raise our people's knowledge of the area ... so they don't just see it as somewhere to go four-wheel-driving but somewhere to connect with lands and waters?" he asked.
"If we had a developer who wanted to come talk to us about this precinct, we'd be open to a conversation, but we'd need to make sure our values aligned.”