Organisers, dignitaries and elders of the Bundjalung Nation gather for the Declaration of Cubawee Aboriginal Place.
Organisers, dignitaries and elders of the Bundjalung Nation gather for the Declaration of Cubawee Aboriginal Place. jay cronan

Cubawee returned to people

AFTER years of work the Cubawee Reserve has finally been handed back to its indigenous owners.

Sisters June Gordon and Irene Harrington, Widjabul elders of the Bundjalung Nation, grew up at the Aboriginal reserve, and were thankful the land was officially returned to their people.

“In our hearts we are truly grateful that at last our homeland has been given back to us for generations to come, and we thank the Government for this,” Ms Gordon said.

The land, also known as the Tuncester Aboriginal Reserve, was a self-managed Aboriginal settlement from the 1930s until 1965, and the sisters have fond memories of their traditional home.

“We were brought up here. Our childhoods were spent here and they were the happiest memories of our life,” Ms Gordon said.

“We left here in our wedding dresses,” Ms Harrington said.

Ngulingah Aboriginal Land Council project officer Tracey King is focusing on developing the site into an educational place for young people to learn about indigenous culture.

“We’re trying to get things happening out here, and hope to have community groups and mentoring programs here, and have school camps,” she said.

While the land will include barbecue areas, educational boards and even a footy field, Ms King said one of the most important parts of the project was giving her people new skills to aid in employment.

“We’re running a TAFE team out here and trying to get employment programs with training programs,” she said.

“It’s hard for them to get jobs, and Aboriginal people like working on country, so here they can learn a new set of skills while doing what they’re already doing, and build their self-esteem.”

She said youth involvement was also a major focus.

“One of the aims of the land council is getting these kids that are lost, because the next step is our people getting locked up,” she said.

“There will be a focus on youth and youth projects, because it’s important to pass on cultural knowledge.”

Elder Vivienne Lourie-King also stressed the importance of getting youth involved.

“There’s a lot of memories here, and we’re losing so much,” she said.

“We need a cultural camp, a centre where we can teach them.”



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