North Queensland’s Wakaman People have Native Title recognised

Published Friday, 18 August, 2023 at 03:08 PM

Minister for Resources
The Honourable Scott Stewart

  • The Federal Court has recognised the non-exclusive Native Title rights of the Wakaman People.
  • The determination took place on-country at Chillagoe, approximately 200 km west of Cairns.
  • The recognition confirms the connection of the Wakaman People to their traditional homelands.

The Federal Court today recognised the Native Title rights of the Wakaman People in a ceremony in Chillagoe in Far North Queensland.

Justice Collier presided over an on-country sitting, joining with the native title holders for a ceremony and celebration following the official proceedings.

The determination means the Court has accepted and acknowledged the Wakaman People’s proven, unbroken connection to more than 715,000 hectares of their traditional homelands.

The Wakaman people today continue their traditional practices of fishing and hunting on-country, as well as harvesting natural resources to make shields, baskets and adornments.

Maintaining their traditional lands ensures the Wakaman People can continue to pass these cultural practices, skills and stories onto to the younger generations.

Quotes attributable to Member for Cook Cynthia Lui:

“Aboriginal people have inhabited this area of Queensland for over 25,000 years.

“It’s been a long road for the Wakaman People to have their claims recognised and I hope the determination gives them a sense of peace. 

“Being able to maintain their traditional lands and ensure the cultural practices, skills and stories are passed onto the next generation is a wonderful thing.”

 Quotes attributable to Resources Minister Scott Stewart:

 “The recognition of native title is a fundamental step in changing the relationship between the Queensland Government and our First Nations communities.

“We are fortunate in Queensland to be home to two of the longest, continuing cultures in history, in the Aboriginal cultures and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

Quotes attributable to William (Billy) Thomas, Wakaman Applicant and Native Title holder

“We have been going back to country and teaching my children, nephews and grandchildren about country, about what’s on the river and land.

“We teach them about hunting and fishing, showing country and sacred sites, like my mother did with me.

We can continue doing this, that’s why it means a lot to me.

“The Tate River is special to me, as that’s where my mother was born.”

Further information

Wakaman Country is the savannah lands, west of the Great Dividing Range in far North Queensland. The area is bounded by Mungana and Chillagoe in the north; Mount Surprise to the south; Almaden in the east; and Dagworth in the west.