IN August last year, I wrote an article suggesting that the attempt by the Queensland government to annex British New Guinea in 1883 could have been disastrous given Queensland’s incredibly brutal and bloodthirsty history of dispossessing its indigenous inhabitants.
Just recently I’ve been working with the Butchulla people, the traditional owners of Fraser Island, just a hop, skip and jump from my front door in Hervey Bay. They have only just gained native title to the island.
Native title isn’t as good as it sounds. It doesn’t give them exclusive rights to the land or anything else on the island. At best it gives them some rights about how the island is managed in the future.
One of the things we’ve managed to do, using modern, non-invasive ground penetrating radar technology, is locate several old cemeteries at the site of the island’s infamous Bogimbah Mission.