Native title claim on coastal land

RESPONDENTS have until January 5 to have their say about a new native title claim that encompasses Fraser Island, Inskip Point and some land and water near Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach.

Aunty Lillian Burke, of the Butchulla People, said the claim was about “belonging”.

Aunty Burke said she only found out at the end of the 1990s about her ancestors.

“My ancestors were removed from Fraser Island,” she said.

“It’s a matter of finding your identity.”

She said the native title claim would give the Butchulla people the right to be the traditional owners of the land and protect sacred sites. “There’s so many artefacts there to be found, it will protect our cultural heritage.

“People will still be able to camp there and carry on with traditional ways.”

Gympie Mayor Ron Dyne said council would be responding and sending in a submission, but he had no concerns about the application. The Butchulla People, who first applied for native title over the land in 1998, were unsuccessful with their first attempt and that claim was discontinued.

Other attempts over the years have been dismissed.

Now they have a new claim which covers about 1650 square kilometres or the entire land mass of Fraser Island, and one that covers about 6829 km2 over waters off Fraser Island, land surrounding Hervey Bay, Maryborough, north of Tin Can Bay and Inskip point.

The application for native title was advertised in the Courier Mail on Wednesday, September 22, saying the Butchulla People were asking the Federal Court to again determine they hold native title in the areas described.

A spokesperson from the Native Title Tribunal has said the application would be dealt with by mediation and only end up before the courts if all parties involved couldn’t agree.

The claim, whether exclusive or non-exclusive, was confidential and the spokesperson said they could not give out details.

They said the application was at the beginning of the process and, on average, it took just over six years for claims to be settled through mediation and longer if they went to trial.

According to the Department of Environment and Resource Management website there is evidence the Butchulla people inhabited Fraser Island and the adjacent mainland for at least 5000 years.

“Today, Fraser Island contains heritage sites of spiritual, social and archaeological significance. Middens, artefact scatters, scarred trees and campsites bear witness to the lifestyle of the Butchulla people,” the website says.

The Queensland South Native Titles Service, representing the Butchulla People, had not returned The Gympie Times requests for information by the time of print.

Any person who wants to become a party to any of the applications must write to the Registrar of the Federal Court at PO Box 13084, George Street Post Shop, Brisbane, QLD, 4003.

Gympie Times

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