As a child in the early 70s, I found poetry anthology My People by Kath Walker in my school library. First publishing in 1964 she was Australia’s first published Aboriginal poet.
Mining has been a part of the Minjerriba history since 1949. The sand mining industry on Stradbroke Island began with shovels and trucks on Main Beach. This developed over time to large-scale dredging operations and up until 2019 mineral leases covered approximately 60% of the Island. Lines in the Sand A History of Mineral Sandmining on Queensland’s Barrier Islands states that in 1997 the then mine owner CRL commissioned a new mine at the Ibis-Alpha ore-body.
“The new mine became a focal point for the anti-mining campaign and Brisbane-based conservation groups, including the QCC and the Greens, formed the Stradbroke Island Action Coalition (SIAC) which also included the QLC, now strongly opposed to mining. The SIAC organised a number of protests on the Island to highlight their concern including a public rally, held in August 1996,98followed by a blockade of the road to the new mine site which caused delays in the commissioning of the mine” (Sweett, p66).
The author goes onto say that the blockade continued for over a month, but ended after disagreements within QLC and lack of support from SIMO and community.
Figure 1. 1997 Around 60 people gathered at Dunwich March 26 to protest against sand mining. Image retrieved from FOSI Facebook Page.
Redlands2030 website reports
“The Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC) recently explained its position on plans for development at Toondah Harbour.
QYAC is a Registered Prescribed Body Corporate created under the Native Title Act 1993to manage the recognised Native Title rights and interests of the Quandamooka People.
In 2015 the Redland City Bulletin reported “Stradbroke’s Quandamooka people back Cleveland Harbour revamp”. Since then, QYAC’s position on plans for development at Toondah Harbour has been the subject of some misconceptions.
In a carefully worded statement to many stakeholders (copy below), QYAC CEO Cameron Costello recently made a number of points which set out his organisation’s position on development at Toondah Harbour. Key points include:
- QYAC has consistently supported an upgrade of Toondah Harbour but only if this brings about economic development opportunities for the Quandamooka People.
- The Quandamooka People as Traditional Owners for the area on which the PDA is proposed should be appropriately consulted on the development.
- QYAC was not consulted by either the Redland City Council or the State Government prior to the Toondah Harbour Priority Development Area being declared in 2013.
- QYAC reiterates comments made in its 2014 submission to the State Government (copy below) that the “preservation of and enhancement of public and open space is important” and that the “development is likely to impact upon sensitive environmental areas, and this should be addressed including in particular any concerns with existing Ramsar Areas” .
- At no point has QYAC given support to any Master Plans provided by Walker Corporation.
- Allegations that QYAC has received a financial gift from Walker Corporation are incorrect and false
- QYAC lodged its Quandamooka Coast Claim (which includes the Toondah Harbour Area) in 2016 as a direct response to the Toondah Harbour PDA, to ensure that the Quandamooka People’s cultural heritage and native title rights and interests were protected”.
Full transcript is available at
The process to nominate Moreton Bay for World Heritage listing started in 2017. The state government has budgeted $1.3 million to develop the nomination of North Stradbroke and Moreton islands as a World Heritage Area.
QYAC chief executive officer Cameron Costello said that it was uncommon for a listing process to be led by traditional owners.
The proposed area for listing was 3200 square kilometres covering North Stradbroke Island, Moreton Island and Moreton Bay. Retrieved from https://redlands2030.net/quandamooka-world-heritage-listing/
Dredging in the World Heritage Listed Moreton Bay would be prohibited, effectively meaning that the Toondah Harbour redevelopment could not go ahead.
“Long before the sails of the first English ships cast their tall shadows on our shores in 1788 we were a thriving culture with our own customs, laws and beliefs” Uncle Bob Anderson.
Counter-mapping creates new and alternative knowledge about the world and denounces dominant representations (Bruno, Didier, & Vitale, 2014, Milan & van der Velden, 2016). It is a way through which ‘deep, spatial knowledge of a people, place and time is shared and communicated’ (Bryan & Wood, 2015, p. 179).
Bruno, I., Didier, E., & Vitale, T. (2014). Statactivism: Forms of action between disclosure and affirmation. Partecipazione e Conflitto: The Open Journal of Sociopolitical Studies. PACO, Issue, 7(2), 198–220.
Bryan, J., & Wood, D. (2015). Weaponizing maps: Indigenous peoples and counterinsurgency in the Americas. New York: The Guildford Press.
Equal pay, was only part of the disrespect afforded Aboriginal peoples. Under the Aboriginal Protection Act indigenous people were not allowed to live within one mile of Dunwich and North Stradbroke Island’s aboriginal families were forcibly shifted to an aboriginal settlement at Myora Springs, where they lived from 1892 until 1940. Closed in 1941, people shifted to nearby One Mile to be closer to work at the Benevolent Asylum only to have it close. A near 80 year sit in ensued and counting. In 1952, the state government unsuccessfully tried to remove indigenous people from One Mile with a proposal to provide 96 allotments at Myora. Which was never realised.
A One Mile Sovereign Resident Council formed – a group of Island indigenous residents, wanting to retain a “sovereign position” at the settlement as reported by Redland City Bulletin’s article One Mile Issue Raised in Paliament . The article goes onto quote spokesperson for the One Mile Sovereign Resident Council, Dale Ruska who said some residents wanted to “reclaim” ancestral lands to rectify housing needs and social issues at One Mile. Redland Council says the 30-hectare parcel of land is “unallocated state land” and until some state government decisions are made on its usage, Redlands cannot “rate” the land or begin the process of providing fresh water supply, or sewerage for the 150 or so residents this time reported in the Brisbane Time Article Stradbroke Islands Forgotten Mile.
Carers And Activists
From the conflicts of 1832 and 33, to 1869 when the Benevolent Asylum was established on the island to house the frail, elderly and infirmed people from the settler communities from of the mainland. The care for these people was by both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people. Pay for aboriginal people was however in rations. A brief introduction to the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum / North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum states Aboriginal workers campaigned from 1920 for equal pay and in 1926 the Australian Workers Union represented the Aboriginal Gang demanding that workers should be paid award rates – and receive the same as white workers. After almost 20 years of running strikes, petitions and industrial action and delegations to Government Ministers, in 1944 the government agreed that Aboriginal workers should receive award wages. It was more than 40 years before the same occurred elsewhere in Queensland.
The abrupt move of the Asylum to Eventide in Sandgate in 1946, left island people out of work. But continuous occupation of their land was made possible however by the arrival of mining. This is ironic given that Native Title is cnditional on continuous occupancy of country and that Native Title granted in the Quandamooka 2011 actually served to end mining
Direct Action of the 1800s
August 2018, Dr Ray Hovekirk presented his research into the Frontier Wars at the North Stradbroke Island on Minjerribah recounting conflict between soldiers and Aboriginal groups, roughly between 1832 and 1833.
“A conflict seems to have erupted over killings and counter-killings involving the European staff of the Amity Point pilot station and a local headman, who was killed in a fishing trip. According to one account (of Thomas Welsby) the result was a day-long pitched battle against a group of soldiers at the flats of Cooroon Cooroonpah Creek (north of Myora)”.
Retrieved from https://frontierbattleshgrc.wordpress.com/maps/specific-affrays-and-arenas/ August 29, 2018.
Research, presented to the Australian Historical Association’s Conflict in History conference July 2015 at the University of Queensland, estimated that there were “66,680 Queensland deaths between 1788 and 1930. Of those deaths, 65,180 were indigenous…”
Retrieved from http://australianfrontierconflicts.com.au/some-known-frontier-conflicts-in-queensland/ August 29, 2018.
These direct actions of resistance set the stage for ensuing community actions seeking change be that sovereign recognition, environmental, social, economic or cultural on Minjerribah to the present day.
Dr Ray Kerkhove is an independent historian and cultural researcher specialising in Indigenous history and material culture of southern Queensland.
August 24, 2018 he spoke at North Stradbroke Island Museum on Minjerribah about the frontier wars. His reflections on sites of conflict, dates and casualties can be found
Research, presented to the Australian Historical Association’s Conflict in History conference July 2015 at the University of Queensland, estimated 66,680 Queensland deaths between 1788 and 1930. Of those deaths, 65,180 were indigenous, which is about three times what was previously thought.
The report’s co-author, historian Professor Raymond Evans, said the calculations were based on official records, anecdotal reports and the number of patrols undertaken by the colonial Queensland government’s Native Police. Professor Evans said the estimated death toll was at least on a par with Australian casualties during World War I.
The Indigenous population of the Australian continent at the time of European settlement is estimated at more than 700,000. That number began declining rapidly from 1789 due to smallpox epidemic, reaching its nadir of 93,000 people in 1900. In 2018, projections show the Indigenous population will return to its pre-contact level in 2021. https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/smallpox-epidemic