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Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples & Communities
Acknowledgment of Country
Ipswich City Council respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners as custodians of the land and waters we share. We pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging, as the keepers of the traditions, customs, cultures and stories of proud people.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that Picture Ipswich contains images, voices or names of deceased persons in various formats of material including print, audiovisual and electronic.
Some material contains terms that reflect authors' views, or those of the period in which the material was written or recorded, but may not be considered appropriate today. These views are not necessarily the views of the Ipswich City Council. While the information may not reflect current understanding, it is included within Picture Ipswich in an historical context.
Ipswich, which is known traditionally in Yagara/Yugera language as Tulmur, has been home to Aboriginal people since before the beginnings of recorded European settlement. There is evidence to suggest that at the time of European settlement there were a number of clan groups, identified as being a part of the Yagara/Yugera Language Group. With the arrival of the Europeans from around 1827, there was conflict between the first peoples and the newcomers and over time the Aboriginal citizens of the Ipswich area were marginalised and treated poorly, with only three surviving clans that today identify as being a part of the Yagara/Yugara Language Group (the Jagera, Yuggeran and Ugarapul People).
The idea of progress by the European Settlers, was in direct opposition to the long held cultural and sustainable practices that linked Aboriginal People to the land and waters. Aboriginal people see themselves as inextricably linked to country both spiritually and physically. The Aboriginal view of the land is that it is something to be cared for, that people are custodians. The view of the European settlers was that the land is something to own. The Aboriginal perspectives to land were seen as inferior by the settlers as they didn’t produce man-built monuments or large commercial practices. In addition, the presence of limestone and coal so near to the navigable Bremer River meant that the European settlers saw a different kind of prosperity for the Ipswich area. In contrast to that of Traditional Custodians of the land, who utilised the chalcedony and silicified limestone resource for trading and tool making.
Today we have the opportunity to recognise past mistakes and to bring the best of each approach into Ipswich’s future by celebrating and caring for the environment, honouring the first peoples of this land and developing communities that are more sustainable and in tune with their place. The river played a key role in the cultural life of the Traditional Owners as it did for the early European settlers, for whom the deep river enabled a local economy to blossom. Later, as it was superseded as the main transport and communications channel, for much of the city’s modern history, this great ribbon of water was often seen as at best a tool for development. Today the Bremer River is once again being celebrated as the focal point of the city and is now re-emerging as a beautiful natural icon. New parkland developments are bringing people back to their river so they can enjoy its beauty and environmental significance. Moreover, the cultural connections of Traditional Owners with the Bremer River are being acknowledged and respected, enabling cultural practices to continue and passed on to each new generation.
The Traditional Owners of Ipswich, have a history that stretches back through time with cultural practices involving a complex interweaving of practical, spiritual and environmentally sustainable behaviours. With a culture built on sharing, the minimal disturbance of the natural world and a reverence for natural land forms, a clash with the European arrivals was inevitable. The new settlers didn’t understand much of the traditional culture and spiritual perspectives. The carving up of the land into farms and denied access to water sources, "owned" by the European settlers meant access to many of the traditional areas became impossible. The new settlers also exposed Aboriginal People to new diseases, of which they had no natural immunity or traditional medicines developed to treat them. This combination of a lack of understanding of the cultural and spiritual connection to land and waters, and the introduction of new deadly diseased meant the settlers had a devastating and generational impact on the lives of the Traditional Owners.
This fracturing of their traditional and spiritual connections to their lands and waters impacted on the Traditional Owners in different ways. Some of the dispossessed gravitated towards the settler communities, many of whom were intermittently camping in and around Queens Park; while others sought the safety of neighbouring tribal lands, enabling the continuation of cultural practices and others where fortunate to obtain employment direct from settler families.
In the 1880s, a group of settlers had begun to assist the dispossessed, they petitioned the government for land to be dedicated for their safety, eventually leading to the establishment of an Aboriginal Reserve at Deebing Creek. Initially, residence at the Deebing Creek Reserve was voluntary, with freedom to come and go as needed. However, with the passing of the Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the sale of Opium Act in 1897, the Reserve was elevated to that of a Mission, enabling the government to take over and control the lives of Aboriginal people, dictating where they would live, who they could marry and for whom they would work for. Missions were religiously based establishments where Aboriginal people were taught Christianity and a range of menial skills such as housekeeping, sewing and farm labouring. As a result, Aboriginal people were denied their language, cultural and spiritual practices. They were also contracted out by the mission to settler families within the growing Ipswich community, with the mission receiving the payment (now referred to as Stolen Wages).
By 1900, Deebing Creek Mission was receiving Aboriginal people from all over the state. This meant that there were many different cultural groups placed together at the mission, some of whom were taken from their families hundreds of kilometres away. This taking by force of Aboriginal people from their families, communities and homelands is now known as The Stolen Generations. Deebing Creek Mission moved to Purga in 1915 and continued until June 1948. The site of the Purga Mission is now the home of the Purga Elders and Descendants Aboriginal Corporation Inc Qld.
Ipswich City Council Indigenous Accord
Ipswich today acknowledges and celebrates the first peoples of the region. In 1995, Ipswich City Council committed to, with the support of respected community members, formulating a Reconciliation Initiative which became the Ipswich City Council Indigenous Australian Accord Working Party. This resulted with the original Accord (the 1995 Accord) being developed and the subsequent updated versions of the Accord over the years; the latest being the Ipswich City Council Indigenous Accord 2020 – 2025.
The Ipswich City Council Indigenous Accord 2020 – 2025 contains targeted and specific actions and sets the agenda for cooperation, collaboration and partnership between Ipswich City Council and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Under Theme 2 ‘Traditional Owners’ the Accord recognises and acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the regions and places of Ipswich as the custodians of the land whose connection to country has been over tens of thousands of years. This Accord recognises and acknowledges the rights of the Traditional Owners to be a central stakeholder in decision-making about the lands, regions, places and natural resources of Ipswich. This Accord provides a mutual responsibility that the cultures, customs, traditions, heritage, languages and stories of the Traditional Owners are preserved, encouraged, promoted and celebrated.
One of the initial positive outcomes of the Accord 2020 – 2025 was the naming of the newly redeveloped Ipswich CBD ‘Tulmur Place’, acknowledging that the Ipswich region is traditionally known as Tulmur in Yagara/Yugara Language.
The Art work used for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples & Communities page was created for the Ipswich City Council Indigenous Accord 2020-2025.
References (online)Additional ResourcesPhoto of Family group outside their bush hut, Ipswich District, Queensland, ca. 1905Read More At Ipswich LibrariesAboriginal Camp Sites of Greater Brisbane, by Ray Kerkhove, 2015The Battle of One Tree Hill: the Aboriginal resistance that stunned Queensland, by Ray Kerhove, 2019Blood on the Wattle: massacres and maltreatments of Australian Aboriginals since 1788, by Bruce Elder, 1998Brisbane Blacks, by Michael Aird, 2001Bush Heritage: an introduction to the history of plant and animal use by Aboriginal people and colonists in the Brisbane and Sunshine Coast areas, by Pat Symons, 1994The Conspiracy of Silence: Queensland's frontier killing-times, by Timothy Bottoms, 2013Ipswich Indigenous Australian Profile, 2006King Plates: a history of Aboriginal gorgets, by Troy Jakelin, 1993The Native Tribes of South-East Australia, by A.W. Howitt, 1904One hour more daylight: a historical overview of Aboriginal dispossession in southern and southwest Queensland, Mark Copland 2006Portraits of Our Elders, by Michael Aird, 1993Tulmah Tales: through the eyes of our Indigenous Australian elders, 2006Race Relations in Colonial Queensland: a history of exclusion, exploitation and extermination, by Raymond Evans, 1993The Reality of a Dark History: from contact and conflict to cultural recognition, by Valerie Violet Donovan, 2002Remembering Aboriginal Heroes: struggle, identity and the media, by John Ramsland, 2012Robert Landers, interviewed by Matthew Bird, 2001The Secret War: a true history of Queensland's Native Police, Jonathan Richards, 2008
Ipswich General Cemetery Register of Burials A5919-A10000 and B1-B755, 3 January 1933 to 17 October 1946