Darumbal dancers with Commodore Jonathan Earley, ASMTI manager, at the Land Handover ceremony and Darumbal Office opening
Darumbal dancers with Commodore Jonathan Earley, ASMTI manager, at the Land Handover ceremony and Darumbal Office opening

Double Darumbal celebration

Darumbal people invited representatives from the business sector, Council and Defence to dance with them on Tuesday morning to ­celebrate two momentous achievements for Traditional Custodians.

Close to 100 people ­gathered in Prospect Street, South Rockhampton for a two-hour ceremony which began with the transfer of land deeds and finished with cutting the ribbon on new Darumbal offices.

Aunty Nyoka Hatfield presents the Defence rperesentative with a Darumbal gift made of feathers and paperbark
Aunty Nyoka Hatfield presents the Defence rperesentative with a Darumbal gift made of feathers and paperbark

In accordance with the Federal Court's native title determination of 2016, about 409 hectares of land near Mt Chalmers, Mount Archer and Thompson Point between Rockhampton and the ­Capricorn Coast were transferred to Darumbal ownership.

Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke said the handover represented the government's ongoing commitment to recognising the "rights, history and culture of our First Nations Peoples and the deep connection they continue to hold to their land and to their ancestors".

Darumbal man, Elder and Darumbal People Aboriginal Corporation board member George James said the land parcels included significant landmarks with strong connections to Darumbal history.

Darumbal dancers at the Land Handover ceremony and Darumbal Office opening
Darumbal dancers at the Land Handover ceremony and Darumbal Office opening

"The land parcel on Mount Chalmers is near the recently renamed Mount Baga, an area of significant historic events for our people, and Thompson Point at the mouth of the Fitzroy River was a traditional source of food for the Darumbal ­people," Mr James said.

"We're hoping to now use some of this land to take our youth - our children, ­grandchildren and great grandchildren camping in this bush so we can sit by a fire and tell stories, hold ceremonies, dance, cook, and get them away from their mobile phones.

"In short, it will help our youth to re-establish their cultural connection to our land, to find their place in our culture, and it will cement it for generations to come."

Community members joined Darumbal dancers at the Land Handover ceremony and Darumbal Office opening
Community members joined Darumbal dancers at the Land Handover ceremony and Darumbal Office opening

The successful negotiation of an ILUA between the ­Traditional Owners of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area also resulted in the ­provision of new offices for the combined offices of the Darumbal People Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC and Darumbal Enterprises.

On behalf of the Defence department, which conducts its Australia-Singapore ­Military Training Initiative on Darumbal land, ­Commodore Jonathan ­Earley exchanged gifts with Aunty Nyoka Hatfield and cut the premises' ribbon with Elder Olive Donald.

Commodore Earley thanked the Darumbal ­people for the opportunity to "listen and learn" from them, and to "grow positive stories for future generations".

The ILUA puts in place mechanisms to allow ­Darumbal people certainty around land access and ­protection of cultural heritage.

The Darumbal office in Allenstown is declared open on Tuesday 11 February
The Darumbal office in Allenstown is declared open on Tuesday 11 February

It was an emotional ­occasion for 'Aunty Nicky' who described it as the ­culmination of a ­­quarter-century journey along which the Darumbal people have lost ancestors, children and even grandchildren.

But she said she was proud to have been born into such a resilient and independent people who have developed unprecedented opportunities for indigenous youth to move forward.

Having previously run the organisation out of people's spare rooms, Darumbal ­Enterprise now has the space to run its various programs including cultural heritage management, language and cultural connections.

The ribbon cutting at the new Darumbal office in Allenstown
The ribbon cutting at the new Darumbal office in Allenstown

"Since we opened the doors last month, we have had about 80 visitors from other organisations all over Queensland through the door," Kristina Hatfield said.

"In 2020, we will be specifically focused on ­helping our mob with ­training and business ­opportunities, whether that's providing them support in going to university or getting a white card.

"Some people asked us if we were going to smoke the building during today's ­ceremony but, since we first walked in, we just knew this was our spot.

"It's a great place to be; it has a calming feeling."