200 Years of History Ended by State Government on Moreton Island

Moreton Island will be transferred back to Traditional Owners after the Palaszczuk Government recently passed legislation despite concerns from business and locals.

Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said in recognition of the Quandamooka Peoples’ native title rights on Mulgumpin, the Palaszczuk Government would begin the formal process to return some 17,000 hectares of national and conservation parkland. This represents 98% of the island.

“The Quandamooka People have been custodians of Mulgumpin for thousands of years - protecting and managing the land for generations,” Ms Scanlon said.

“The passing of this legislation is about the ongoing recognition of Quandamooka connection to the land, returning rightful ownership to Traditional Owners and working with them to manage and promote new tourism opportunities for this national treasure.

“It’s this government that set in motion Queensland’s Path to Treaty, is investing close to $1 billion to protect the environment and create jobs as part of our economic recovery, and is recognising native title rights over Mulgumpin.”

Ms Scanlon said that under the changes to legislation, most of the island’s national park, Cape Moreton Conservation Park and some unallocated State land would be transferred.

Mulgumpin, meaning 'place of sandhills' is the Aboriginal name for Moreton Island. The Indigenous people of Mulgumpin are known as the Ngugi. Moorgumpin lies within the area referred to as Quandamooka. Quandamooka is commonly defined as the Moreton Bay region.

In 1770 Captain James Cook named "Morton Bay" after the Scottish Earl of Morton on the 17th May, which was later misspelled as 'Moreton Bay' in translations from his journals. It wasn't until 1823 that the first 'white visitors' arrived on Moreton Island. The last of the Ngugi people were relocated to Stradbroke Island in 1850.

Moreton Island is rich in both Aboriginal and European history, just like Bribie Island, so the same principles could easily be applied here. Worth knowing as you invest your hard-earned on the island.

Moreton has townships of Bulwer, Cowan Cowan, Tangalooma and Kooringal which contain approximately 250 houses belonging to local residents. It also has extensive tourism and accommodation businesses, camping grounds, shops and services. The lighthouse on the island to guide ships into the Port of Brisbane was established in 1830, and the island was critical in the defence of Brisbane during WW2.

The recent experiment of granting control to traditional owners on Stradbroke Island has led to conflict between groups of owners and the closing off of recreational areas to tourists. This trend is growing elsewhere such as in New South Wales at Mt Warning, the Northern Territory at Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Victoria at the Grampians where sites are now closed to climbers and visitors.

Most alarmingly, these moves are not being signalled to voters in advance, with consultation being quite minimal and meaningless as these decisions are being made in George Street Brisbane regardless of the concerns of locals and business that no longer seem to matter. These decision-makers have no skin in the game as they don’t live here, yet they feel entitled to do as they please. Doing this while other bigger issues such as COVID are dominating the media and public debate is also rather cynical, like sneaking one through to the keeper.

Alas, the horse has bolted again.




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