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    Minister for Natural Resources and Water and Minister Assisting the Premier in North Queensland
    The Honourable Craig Wallace

    MT WHEELER HANDED OVER TO TRADITIONAL DARUMBAL OWNERS IN HISTORIC CEREMONY

    Minister for Natural Resources and Water and Minister Assisting the Premier in North Queensland
    The Honourable Craig Wallace

    Saturday, January 20, 2007

    MT WHEELER HANDED OVER TO TRADITIONAL DARUMBAL OWNERS IN HISTORIC CEREMONY

    In an historic handover ceremony, Natural Resources Minister Craig Wallace today gave representatives of the Darumbal people freehold title to 137 hectares at Mt Wheeler, including all of the mountain.

    Mr Wallace handed title to the former unallocated state land, 24 km north-east of Rockhampton, to 25 Darumbal trustees.

    Mr Wallace said the deed of grant to the Gawula Aboriginal Land Trust was the first in the Rockhampton region under the Aboriginal Land Act 1991.

    The handover ceremony included a smoking ceremony, a welcome to country and speeches by elders, followed by the first meeting of the Gawula Aboriginal Land Trust.

    The ceremony also was attended by the State Member for Keppel, Paul Hoolihan.

    “On behalf of the people of Queensland, I warmly congratulate the new legal owners of Mt Wheeler, the Darumbal people,” Mr Wallace said.

    “This handover returns a place of spiritual significance to the Darumbal,” he said.

    “They will hold it for the benefit of Aboriginal people.

    “Today is a very positive step towards reconciliation and will help rectify the consequences of past injustices,” Mr Wallace said.

    Member for Keppel Paul Hoolihan said: “Today’s handover is an important milestone for local Aboriginal people.

    “It is a mark of respect for the traditions, observances, customs and beliefs of the Darumbal as custodians of the land,” Mr Hoolihan said.

    The Mt Wheeler land is bounded by Tanby Post Road on the north east, Mt Wheeler Road on the south east and by private freehold land on the remaining sides.

    Mt Wheeler, a distinctive peak formed by volcanic plugs, was originally named Cockscombe Hill by Captain James Cook in 1770.

    The Darumbal people should be consulted about Mt Wheeler’s history and traditions but the land has high significance to them.

    A tragic confrontation, involving a number of Aboriginal deaths, reportedly occurred between early European settlers and the Darumbal on or near Mt Wheeler.

    Most recently Mt Wheeler has been used as a Recreation Reserve for bushwalking and mountain biking.

    Mr Wallace said 35 hectares adjacent to the Mt Wheeler land would become a Reserve for Environmental Purposes with access by the public.

    Queensland has a strong tradition of returning Aboriginal land to traditional owners under both State and Commonwealth laws.

    Mr Wallace said the Mt Wheeler land transfer was the 56th, involving 1.3 million hectares of land, to take place since the Aboriginal Land Act came into effect in 1991.

    “It is the first land transfer to take place in the Rockhampton area but is expected to be followed later this year by a grant on GreatKeppelIsland to the Woppaburra people,” he said.

    Under Commonwealth law, at the end of September 2006, 131 Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) were registered in Queensland - 52.2% of the total for Australia (251). There also were 35 consent determinations of native title.

    Mr Wallace paid tribute to all the people involved in negotiating the deed of grant to Mt Wheeler over a two year period, including Darumbal Elders.

    “The grantees now have the right to decide what takes place on the land and I wish them well in their future endeavours,” he said.

    Media inquiries: Paul Childs, Craig Wallace’s office, on 0407 131 654.

    Electronic photographs of Mt Wheeler are available on request.