• The Bindunbur and Jabirr Jabirr/Ngumbarl native title claims were approved by the Federal Court in an on country hearing. (Kimberley Land Council)Source: Kimberley Land Council
Traditional owners had their native title claims granted in the Kimberley during an on country Federal Court hearing.
Rangi Hirini

3 May 2018 - 9:48 AM  UPDATED 3 May 2018 - 11:31 AM

The Nyul Nyul, Nimanburr and Jabirr Jabirr/Ngumbarl people celebrated their native title determination in Beagle Bay, 129 kilometres north- east of Broome.

The Federal Court handed down their determination over the 12,000 square kilometre area which includes the Dampier Peninsula.

The Bindunbur and Jabirr Jabirr native title claims were logged in 2013. The name for the claim was chosen and refers to the inland bush country. 

Bindunbur applicants – Damien Manado, Cecilia Churnside, Alec Dann, Betty Dixon, Walter Koster and Phillip McCarthy released a joint statement following the determination. 

“It was a bit of a struggle but we all came together and have had a good win," the statement read.

"We were together in the past, we are together now, and we will be together in the future. We have shown good strength working side-by-side. But we still have more work to do," they said. 

Mary O’Reeri is a Nyul Nyul Traditional Owner and native title holder, she said many Nyul Nyul elders have passed and weren't here for today's historic moment. 

“We have lost a lot of our old people who have advocated and fought very hard to see this day of recognition... native title gives us as Traditional Owners a much stronger position at the table to negotiate agreements for our country. Native title for us is a tool to work together and aim to bring prosperity in many ways for our people," Ms O'Reeri said in a statement. 

Frank Parriman is Jabirr Jabirr Traditional Owner and native title holder he said it has been a long time coming for his people. 

"It is incumbent on us now to make this work for all of us, for every group on the peninsula, I say let’s not be wasteful of this opportunity but to take the advantage and build a working model which is inclusive, which protects, preserves and grows the true meaning of native title for all in the region," he said. 

In November 2017 a separate native title claim by the Goolarabooloo people, which overlaps the area, was dismissed by the Federal Court.

The area in the Dampier Peninsula where James Price Point is located, the Goolarabooloo people were at the forefront of a proposed Woodside Petroleum gas hub which was going to be built there.

The dismissal of their native title rights was a shock to many, with Justice Anthony North stating in November, the evidence was just not strong enough.

“The Goolarabooloo applicants have not succeeded to land and waters … because the original inhabitants did not become extinct,” Justice North said

The Kimberley Land Council has been the legal representative for the Nyul Nyul, Nimanburr and Jabirr Jabirr/Ngumbarl people throughout the Bindunbur native title claim.

Acting Chief Executive Officer Tyronne Garstone said years of hard work and persistence by the Nyul Nyul, Nimanburr and Jabirr Jabirr/Ngumbarl people paid off today. 

“A determination of native title recognises the unbroken and continuing connection to country of the Traditional Owners before sovereignty was declared across Western Australia in 1829," Mr Garstone said in a statement. 

“Native title gives Traditional Owners a genuine and real say on what happens to and on their land.”

Mr Garstone said the next step for native title holders will be to set up corporations known as prescribed bodies corporate, so that native title holders can manage what happens on their country.


Today, Western Australian Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt welcomed the determination, making it the 80th native title determination in the state.

“I congratulate the Bindunbur and Jabirr Jabirr people on their achievement, and note the steady increase in the number of native title consent determinations in Western Australia,” he said.

“This determination means that the certainty of native title rights in the whole of the Dampier Peninsula will assist the economic development future of this region. This decision will provide an environment for sound investment and help the local economy in areas such as ecotourism and aquaculture.”

This is the fourth native title determination in Western Australia, this year.  Western Australia is the leading state in recognition of native title rights, with approximately 1.5 million square kilometres within the State determined under native title. 

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