Hand back of massacre site helps Darumbal people heal

Published Thursday, 21 April, 2022 at 12:42 PM


Minister for Seniors and Disability Services and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
The Honourable Craig Crawford

Minister for Resources
The Honourable Scott Stewart

Central Queensland's Darumbal People today take control forever of a culturally significant site at the foot of Gai-i, “doing right” by their old people.

In a ceremony in bushland southwest of Yeppoon, the Gawula Aboriginal Land Trust, representing the Darumbal people, became trustees of the 13.5-hectare reserve, which is surrounded by land over where the Darumbal people already hold native title.

For Darumbal woman Aunty Sally Vea Vea today was a “settling” after past atrocities.

“In the late 1800s, more than 300 Darumbal people were massacred on the base of Gai-i. Back then they treated killing us like a sport,” Aunty Sally said.

“This trauma has been passed down generations. We have stories of people with us today whose grandmothers and aunties saw these atrocities.

“Getting the mountain’s name changed from Mount Wheeler to Gai-i in 2018 was a big step forward for us as Captain Wheeler was responsible for these massacres on our Country.

“But now we’ve got the massacre site back, there’s been a settling inside me. I know we’ve done right by our old people who still live there in spirit.

“The Darumbal people will continue to care for Country and tell people of the history of this place – the good and the bad.”

Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga said land transfers like today’s could play a significant role in Queensland’s journey towards reconciliation.

“We are honoured to return this site of spiritual, cultural and historical significance to its rightful owners,” Ms Lauga said.

“Although this land transfer will not rectify past injustices, I hope it can provide a sense of closure to the Darumbal people.

“Every move we make to right the wrongs of the past, such as land transfers, we take a positive step on the path to truth-telling, healing and true reconciliation.”

Resources Minister Scott Stewart said the Palaszczuk Government was proud to work with First Nations people across the state to formally recognise their deep connection to Country.

“This moment is a shining light in what is a deep, dark, history of dispossession of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this state,” he said.

“Our government has transferred more than 6.22 million hectares of land around the state, giving Traditional Owners inalienable freehold title which cannot be sold and is held forever for future generations.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford said truth was the key to justice.

“By acknowledging the true story of the site, it allows for a proper process of healing,’’ Mr Crawford said.

“This sort of justice is symbolic of all of our efforts towards true reconciliation for all Queenslanders.’’

The land transferred today forms part of a dreaming story and was a place where Darumbal people came together for ceremonies and gatherings.

“I felt a sense of duty to my ancestors and the next generation to gain formal ownership of the site,” Aunty Sally said.

“When we get up and say, ‘we pay our respect to elder’s past, present and emerging’, this is a part of all that.

“This process has shown our young people we have put those words into action. They can now say, ‘this place is ours, it has always will be ours,’ and see that recognised by Parliament.”

For more information about land transfers, visit https://www.qld.gov.au/firstnations/environment-land-use-native-title/land-transfers.




Media contacts:

Chris Lees (Minister Stewart) 0434 859 940

Peter Michael (Minister Crawford) 0477 948 091