A massacre site at the base of Gai-i in central Queensland has been handed back to the Darumbal people.
The Queensland government handed control of the culturally significant site at the foot of Gai-i mountain in a ceremony in bushland southwest of Yeppoon on Tuesday.
Gawula Aboriginal Land Trust, who represent the Darumbal people, became trustees of the 13.5 hectare reserve which is surrounded by Darumbal native title land.
Darumbal woman Aunty Sally Vea Vea said she was prepared to wait a lifetime for this land to be rightfully returned.
“In 2007 the government actually gave us some land but they didn’t give us the massacre site and so in 2009 I applied for it, and it was in 2018 that we got a reply back from them,” she said.
“It’s taken a while but that’s ok I’m prepared to wait and if it hadn’t happened in my generation, then I would expect it to happen in the next generation.
“But it did happen in my time so I was really happy about that.”
Aunty Sally said the response from the community was very emotional.
“The impact has been enormous in the community so far and it’s not even been 24 hours since we had the hand back,” she said.
“The Aboriginal community here in this town they are all backing us up and there will always be a certain section of the community that will have different views to us, but we will not whitewash what happened here.
“You know what happened in the past as far as the frontier wars and the guerrilla warfare that took place here, we will not whitewash that.
“That happened and we want that to come out into the open.”
Going forward Aunty Sally said she wants the history of the Darumbal people to be remembered.
“We’re going to move forward and we’ve got our land back but I want the truth to be out there so that the history is taught in the schools,” she said.
“They were told to go out and you could shoot any Black one on your property and that’s what they did.
“And I want people to know that’s the way we were treated, that’s the way the Darumbal people were treated.”
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford said this history is important for all Australian people to know.
“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 return of this land has also seen the return of the Darumbal people’s women’s business place and women’s birthing place.