Wulli Wulli People win landmark Federal Court case
THE usually quiet town of Theodore heard the claps and cheers of hundreds of Wulli Wulli People in an on-country Federal Court hearing this morning which recognised them as the traditional owners of the land.
The hearing, the first of its kind in Central Queensland, marked the end of a 15-year plight to have their native title claim recognised for a piece of the region's history which covered an area of about 5432 square kilometers.
The original Wulli Wulli claim was filed in July 2000 and included Theodore, Cracow, pastoral properties, national parks, state forests and parts of the Dawson River.
For the Wulli Wulli People, the hearing marked a landmark case in which they paid respects to their Elders and the traditional owners of the land.
"It's been a long time coming and we have bought the sprits with us on this momentous occasion," claim applicant Brian Clancy said.
"We never left our country and we will always be here.
"We will respect our Elders until we find our place in the sky."
Lawyer Ted Besley represented the Wulli Wulli People and said the case was a particularity important decision for the region.
"This case is the first of its kind in Central Queensland," Mr Besley said.
"This area was settled very early in Queensland history but despite that the Wulli Wulli people have been able to prove they will maintain their presence and that is a massive achievement."
The history of the Wulli Wulli People in Central Queensland had particular impact on Justice Collier's decision.
"The claim shows Wulli Wulli people were living on the country in 1840 to 1850, before first contact with white people," she said.
"In fact, history shows Wulli Wulli people lived here up to 10, 000 years ago when they used the land to hunt and gather, and used weapons, traditional customs and spiritual beliefs.
"They endured horrendous massacres of Indigenous people including children."
Justice Collier said the Wulli Wulli claimants had worked tirelessly to have their native title claim determined.
"I commend the parties on reaching an agreement as I am aware of how much work goes in," Justice Collier said.
"The Wulli Wulli People will continue to hold their rights and interests in the land under traditional ownership laws."