• Miss Shilo Bligh and Miss Stella Bligh hold the Mitchell Yumba Sign after today's Federal Court decision Supplied: Gunggari Native Title Aboriginal Corp (Becky Bligh)Source: Becky Bligh
The battle for an area of homeland nearly three times the size of Luxembourg is over.
Shahni Wellington

2 Sep 2019 - 7:16 PM  UPDATED 2 Sep 2019 - 7:17 PM

The Gunggari people have won exclusive native title over nearly 7000 sq km of land in South West Queensland.

The decision was handed down by the Federal Court at a special hearing in Brisbane on Monday.

After three native title victories in seven years, the Gunggari people now lay claim to more than 8000 sq km in the Maranoa region.

The latest determination includes ‘Yumba’ - an Aboriginal reserve 600km west of Brisbane that was demolished more than 50 years ago.

Many Gunggari people grew up there along with other Aboriginal peoples, including Bidjara, Kooma and Mandandanji. 

In 1968, 11 years after the reserve at Yumba was shuttered because of a dispute between the local council and the Queensland government, the Booringa Shire Council forced residents off the property, and bulldozed all of the dwellings

The council cited concerns over sanitation and lack of running water for the decision.

Saraeva Mitchell, director of the Gunggari Native Title Aboriginal Corporation, said the Gunggari people were the rightful custodians of the Country.

“I will be reflecting on the 23-year journey our Elders and leaders endured to achieve consent determination and paying my respects to them both past and present,” she said.

Gunggari Elder Ethel Munn said the decision put an end to a 23-year fight for recognition.

“It means absolutely everything to me because of the struggle we went through,” she said.

“We are the custodians and guardians of country and our story is not extinguished - our future generation’s identity and connection carries on.”

Gunggari woman Lynette Nixon said the decision meant future generations can maintain a connection to the land.

“Despite the long and frustrating battle for recognition of our rights, we could not be happier with the outcome,” she said.

“The Yumba really is a very special place that the Gunggari People are responsible for. I was always told that 'Yumba' means 'home’, and you have to look after your home.”

“Many families were forced away from Country, but are now returning and our ancestors will be happy to see our mob coming back to live and or retire.”

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