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A Mark of Respect for the Passing of Senior Uluru Elder

Media Release

21 September 2001

Media Please note:
The consultation process to release this information has been stressful for the family and associates of this senior man. Under normal circumstances no mention would be made of the death, however in respect for his importance to Central Australian Aboriginal people, the following release has been approved.

The passing of a senior traditional elder of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and the Mutitjulu Community has left people of Central Australia grieving.

This Senior Traditional man, Kunmanara Forrester, was a very important leader for Aboriginal people. His funeral will be at Mutitjulu at 10am on Friday 21 September, followed by a family service at Yulara Pulka.

The Director of National Parks has accepted the advice of Traditional Owners of the Park to implement the following measures as a sign of respect for the deceased man:

From sunrise on Friday 21 September 2001 to sunset on Saturday 22 September 2001 the following restrictions will be in place:

The joint managers of the Park have agreed that additional interpretative activities will be provided during this period, to help visitors better understand the World Heritage listed landscape.

The base walks, Kata Tjuta walks, Sunrise and Sunset areas, and the Cultural Centre will remain open to the public. All Park businesses will remain open.

The Director of National Parks, Mr Peter Cochrane, said that Traditional Owners had expressed gratitude at the understanding and support offered by members of the Tourism Industry who are already suffering financial burdens resulting from the demise of Ansett Airlines. The Director said that he hopes that visitors would understand and respect these arrangements to help ensure that the cultural values of the Park are protected and maintained.

20 September 2001

Brooke Watson - Park Manager 08 89562699
Peter Cochrane - Director of National Parks 0419 125137


Kunmanara1 Forrester was known as Cookie to his friends who were many from all over the country and from all walks of life. He was respected as a good man, caring for other people, and showed great love for his grandchildren.

Born at Lyndavale, he grew up in many places, moving around Pitjantjatjara lands, before settling at Palm Valley Station as a teenager. He didn't go to school, but learnt by seeing, listening and working.

He worked on many stations driving cattle, fencing and tailoring, including New Crown, Henbury, Orange Creek, Wave Hill and as far North as Mataranka. He was always hard working, doing a mans job from a young age, working for no pay, only rations - food, work boots, clothing and some tobacco.

As a young man he married Nola Armstrong and settled at Erldunda Station. They raised five children together, and have eleven grandchildren.

He was one of the founders of Tangentyere Council and the Central Australian Aboriginal Medical Association Congress, and had a strong association with the Yeperenye School. He was an active member and served as Chair of the Mutitjulu Council several times and he was a board member of the Mutitjulu Community Store. He was an Executive member of Yankunytjatjara Kutu. He was working as the Assistant Chief Executive Officer of Mutitjulu Community at the time of his death.

His dream was to establish his own tourism business, for his children to carry on, which he had started on his homeland, a very sacred place between Uluru and Kata Tjuta. There, he had houses built for his family to come home, which they had done and they were all living together at the time of his passing.

Kunmanara was a man who could live within two cultures, while always respecting and keeping traditional culture strong. He was always guiding and helping others to learn, understand and make sure Anangu culture would stay strong.

A great teacher, friend, and family man, he will be dearly missed by his wife, children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews, and many friends.