Yarrabah is the traditional country of the Gunggandji and Yidinji people who have been here since the beginning of the dreamtime.
Today many families in the community claim historical and traditional ties to the area having been brought here from various locations by government policies of the past. Our modern day Yarrabah mob is made up of descendants from Gunggandji, Yidinji and many other tribal groups – peoples forcibly brought to Yarrabah during our history – continue to live and work together for the betterment of our community.
At the time of the last (2016) Census, Yarrabah was reported to have a population of 2,559 with over 97% of respondents identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. The median age was 22.
The accuracy of these official figures are questioned. Members of the Yarrabah Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) promote a population figure of closer to 4,500 permanent residents. This figure is based on data collected by both the Queensland Police Service and Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation.
Yarrabah is acknowledged as Australia’s largest discreet Aboriginal community.
The Yarrabah Aboriginal Community is situated on Cape Grafton with the major settlement within Mission Bay (Mira Wun Gula), 10kms due east of Cairns (52 kms south-east by sealed road) of Cairns in Far North Queensland, Australia.
Geographically, the land area can be described as a long slender triangular shape from the tip of False Cape in the north, to Palmer Point in the south, bounded in the west by the Murray Prior Range, known locally as the ‘Walls of Jerusalem’ and the Malbon Thompson Range and the Coral Sea to the east.
It has an overall length of about 35 kms and is 2.5 kms wide in the south, but broadens out to almost 8 kms across the northern part and comprises a total area of 159.4 km2.
The shire has a number of small townships – Yarrabah, Reeves Creek, Mourigan and Djenghi. These areas are all within a 7 km stretch of road and along the southern corridor. There are also a number of smaller housing settlements spread throughout the shire – Bukki, Oombunghi, Wungu, Jilji, Judil, Woikinu, Kunjurra and Buddabadoo.
There are four protected areas in, and adjacent to, Yarrabah: (a) Grey Peaks National Park; (b) Malbon Thompson Conservation Park; (c) Malbon Thompson Forest Reserve (d) Trinity Forest Reserve.
Council wishes to acknowledge the area agreements developed through previous negotiations that provide clear opportunities and processes for traditional owners to be formally involved in the land planning process.
Early days Yarrabah mission map identifying outstations and place names.
Map courtesy of Kathleen Denigan in Yarrabah Relections.
Ja:rabar (Yarabar) was our traditional Gunggandji word for the creek running down from Wambilari, Murray Prior Range into a fresh waterhole. This is now known as Hospital Creek.
Yarraburra is our word for fish hawk, a totemic ancestor that hunts for fish in the Cape Grafton region.
The native title process in Yarrabah has been determined and Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council is proud to recognise the Gunggandji and Mandingalbay Yidinji peoples .
The Native title over Yarrabah was determined in the federal court.
The Gunggandji people Native Title Determination (QCD6013/01) was determined by the Federal Court of Australia on 22 December 2011 and resulted in registration of the Gunggandji Prescribed Body Corporate (‘the GPBC’) as the registered native title body corporate incorporated under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (Cth).
The combined Mandingalbay Yidinji-Gunggandji Peoples Native Title Determination (QCD2012/008) was determined by the Federal Court of Australia on 21 September 2012 and resulted in registration of the Gunggandji-Mandingalbay Yidinji Peoples Prescribed Body Corporate (‘the GMYPPBC’) as the registered native title body corporate incorporated under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (Cth).
On 21 December 2015, the majority of the determination area was transferred to the GMYPPBC as alienable freehold under the Aboriginal Land Act 1991 (Qld) (“the ALA”). Following the ALA transfer, the GMYPPBC became the Trustees for the Transferred Area. The PBC manages this land comprising of 8,200 hectares on behalf of the Gunggandji and Mandingalbay Yidinji native title holders. It is important to note the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council has retained Trustee responsibility for the non-transfer area, which includes the roads, registered leases and areas surveyed within the Council Trustee Area. Refer to map below with the pink shaded areas.
Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council acknowledges the Traditional Owners on the lands we occupy. We recognize the elders past, present and emerging. We recognize their continued connection to the land and support their role as custodians – language, songs and ceremony. In the spirit of true partnership we are committed to supporting the collective aspirations and dreams for Yarrabah.
The Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council (YASC) wishes to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land within the shire boundaries – the Gunggandji and Yidinji peoples; and the area agreements developed through previous negotiations that provide clear opportunities and processes for traditional owners to be formally involved in the land planning process.
The Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council also wishes to acknowledge the historical people brought here to Yarrabah from various locations by government policies of the past.