Why most Punthamarra people don’t live in their claim area…

The Boonthamurra (Punthamarra) land claim has been refused registration on the grounds that most Punthamarra people don’t live in their traditional country. It’s worth noting why most Punthamarra and Wangkumarra (and indeed, many other Western Queensland Aboriginal groups) are mostly located away from their country these days. It’s because in about 1932* the Queensland Protector of Aborigines sent some cattle trucks to the stations in the area and trucked the women and children 700+km east to Palm Island, Cherbourg and Woorabinda (deliberately splitting families). This was timed to occur during a time when most of the men would be away from the station houses with cattle. The men followed on foot when they found out what had happened.
*I can’t look up the date here.

8 responses to “Why most Punthamarra people don’t live in their claim area…

  1. I googled around but couldn’t find the date either. What an awful story.

  2. That’s one of the worst cases of adding insult to injury I’ve ever heard.

  3. Removing people from their country was common practice in Qieensland until the 1960s-70s. It had largely died out elsewhere, although individuals, mainly kids, were still being taken from their mothers throuhgout Northern Australia in this period.
    After WW2, the Queensland Government thought it would be a good idea to move every Aboriginal person in North Queensland from their home communities to Bamaga. This would, they thought, solve two problems: it would make it easier to ‘control’ people; and it would free up their land for development.
    It was a commonplace to send in the trucks or the boats and then tell people they were going to Cairns for a medical check-up or a church picnic. There’s many a tale of people getting out to sea and then looking back to see their homes burning.
    Some stayed in the Cape at New Mapoon and Umagico, but people from Lockhart River, for one, just up and walked home.
    At about this time, they were still using Palm Island – off the coast near Townsville – as a penal colony. ‘Cheeky blacks’ could be bundled off there without trial, but with every expectation that they’d never see their home country again.
    In 2007, the Federal Government is using money earned from mines on Aboriginal land as a slush fund tp pay for, among other things, an office that will deal with 99-year leases on Aboriginal land in remote townships. The leases will be held by government – some of them to be parcelled out to private enterprise – in exchange for funding for schools, housing and health services.
    As you can see, not much has changed.

  4. Good point Michael, and of course it wasn’t confined to Queensland either, although what I’ve read about in Western Australia doesn’t quite approach the vindictiveness and spitefulness that seems to be there in Queensland.

  5. I identify as a Punthamurra ( sometimes seen as Bunthamurra ,boonthamurra or Puntamurra) man on my mothers side. We also have to suffer the indignity of proving to the State Government (who enforced the movement of all traditional owners)that we belong to our country. My Mothers family moved around South west Qld working on pastoral properties and living in fringe camps in towns such as Charleville, Cunnamulla, Mitchell and Roma.

    This was done at a time that if you stayed in one place too long you were seized by the police and sent to missions. My grandfather applied and was granted an exemption from the Aboriginal Protection Act, but still had to notify local police of his movements.

    My grandmother on moving to Brisbane was involved in a place called “open doors” which was a meeting place and venue for aboriginal people to meet their mob. My mother continued the tradition being involved in organisations for the betterment of Aboriginal people. So the struggle continues.

  6. My grandfather who was 14 and initiated was the eldest of four children. When the bullymen arrested them(father, mother, 4 children) they were all put in Boga Rd jail for 6mnths before being transfered to Woorabinda……Shame on you the Australian government for putting innocent people and children into such an environment……

  7. melissa ramirez

    I hate it losers

  8. I am descended from the Punthamarra group and we were sent to Woorabinda

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