By ERWIN CHLANDA
Horses died in a house on an abandoned Aboriginal outstation about 20 km from Docker River apparently because they went inside in search of water and the door slammed shut behind them.
They may also have been kicking or bumping into the door, shutting it.
There was a similar drama in another outstation near that remote community in the south-western Northern Territory.
The observation was made by a reader who does not want to be named. He also took these photographs, and provided the following comments:-
Outstation water supplies are not maintained. In drought times horses and camels seek water in communities and break taps and dig pipelines with their hooves to access water.
They will enter houses and try to find water in basins and toilets.
Service providers don’t see it as their responsibility to avoid this situation by checking unoccupied houses, for which they don’t get government funding to maintain.
At many funded outstations, roads, water supplies and houses don’t get these facilities maintained anyway: Resources are being spent on closer-in ones.
This results in them becoming uninhabitable, service providers saying no-one now lives there and see no reason to continue maintaining them.
Infrastructure then deteriorates to the extent these outstations are abandoned.
The land council declare large areas of Indigenous Land Trusts as Reserves which results in all animals except native ones declared as pests needing to be removed.
There is a solar bore, tank and stock trough 30 meters away which is unserviceable.
The owner of the outstation has asked the Land Council, the service provider and every appropriate person government person, can they help him get the water supply operating to water his horses for the last 10 years, to no avail.
The outstation owner sees them as an opportunity for some economic income and work for young people otherwise on unemployment benefits, listening to music and on drugs in the community.
Community people don’t seem to be aware that if they want horses around, they need to access drinking water.
Very few leave buckets of water in their yards.
In dry times horses that don’t migrate to communities in search of water will go to creeks and water holes and dig with their hooves, hoping to get a drink from a soakage.
Most often they will not move from there, waiting for it to replenish, die of thirst and pollute any remaining ponds.
Until the recent rains they were doing this in the western areas of the Petermann Reserve.
Whose responsibility is it to avoid this?
By ERWIN CHLANDA