70. Yolngu trade - discovering new licenses and regulations

Djiniyini Gondarra and Richard Trudgen compare traditional Yolngu trade with the Macassans with current government trade regulations.

Djiniyini talks about how in the past the Macassans came looking for Trepang (sea cucumber used in Asian cuisine). This created large trading tracks between Northern Australia and Macassar.  After a time other products were also traded such as turtle shells, natural pearls, and cowrie shells. Many of these were used as money to pay for other items as they were considered very valuable. Djiniyini explains that even today Yolngu don’t know whether or not some of these things are still considered valuable.

Djiniyini asks if there are now government regulations to stop the trading of Trepang from Yolngu estates and lands. He says there often seem to be government regulations that prevent Yolngu getting into any form of business. Djiniyini and Richard say they will investigate what the situation is at the moment, looking at Yolngu law, the federal government law, and the Northern Territory government law. Richard discusses how they also need to find out all the information in relation to trading from the inter-tidal zone.

Djiniyini  talks about all the different seafood assets in that inter-tidal zone. He asks if it is the Northern Territory government that’s in charge of making regulations about trade now and can Yolngu just go ahead and form relationships with trading partners overseas. Richard replies, saying they need to get all that information, and if there are Acts of Law then think about how to work with the government to begin business. Djiniyini says that if Yolngu find something hard to understand we don’t let that stop us and we start to talk to the government and find a way to get through it.


There are 4 stories in this podcast. Please see time stamps below-

  • Do Trepang have any mingurr value now   00:00
  •  Crabs & trepang licenses – who has them now?  10:15
  •  Need to research on government regulations and free trade agreements 20:23
  •  Yolngu tired of Balanda regulations stopping attempts at building businesses   28:57