Sat. May 28th, 2022

“… And in protecting the island, it’s not about stopping development or growth, it’s about doing it in a way that respects the countries and respects the water.”

Woppaburra on Great Keppel Island once numbered several hundred until European landowners moved into the second half of the 19th century.

In the places known as the ‘drowning caves’, Woppaburra men were sometimes chained and left to the grace of the tide, Mrs Barney said. Many were murdered this way, while women were sold as goods to passing sailors, she said.

Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting hopes to rebuild the sleeping resort of Great Keppel Island.

Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting hopes to rebuild the sleeping resort of Great Keppel Island. Credit:Bloomberg

Add disease to the colonization of Keppels, and by 1902 there were only 17 Woppaburra left, about a dozen of them children.

Ms Barney said the government removed the survivors, who then spread to other Aboriginal communities.

“Fortunately, most of the communities were close to water, allowing people to maintain practice and share our stories so we knew our connections and where all the other family members were,” she said.

Mrs Barney indicated that Woppaburra would protest against any “major development” they believed would harm the island. But they would be open to discussing plans for the resort with Hancock Prospecting or others who wanted to build.

It is unclear whether Hancock intends to build in areas now covered by the Native Title.

In a statement last month, Rinehart’s company said it hoped to develop the old Great Keppel Island resort, closed for more than a decade, pending “a myriad of state and local government approvals”.

“We hope to be able to do it better than it has ever been, with a world-class beach club year-round, sand bars, shopping and more experiences revolving around a marina modeled on successful marinas like Puerto Banus , “stood there.

“We envision a year-round swim-up beach club and an underwater bar that could bring the benefits of overseas tourism to Australia.”

Hancock Prospecting did not answer questions about whether it believed the provision on Native Title could affect its hopes for Great Keppel Island, or whether its plans penetrated areas now covered by Native Title.

Mrs Barney said: ‘It [Friday’s determination] is not only to secure our rights as indigenous title holders to exercise our rights and traditions, it is also [enshrining Woppaburra] as a valid landowner with a share in what is happening on the island. ”

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