• barriers;
  • Cape York Peninsula;
  • Indigenous land and sea management;
  • Shelburne Bay;
  • Wuthathi


The Wuthathi people from the Shelburne Bay area on the north-east coast of Cape York Peninsula have been displaced from their ancestral homelands since the late 1930s. Despite not having a permanent presence, Wuthathi have continued to access their ancestral country and connection remains unbroken. Through both Native Title and the Queensland Government’s land tenure reform process, much of the Wuthathi homelands will be returned as either Aboriginal freehold land or as Aboriginal-owned national park. Wuthathi have Native Title over their sea estate that includes the exclusive use of a number of islands. The completion of Native Title and tenure reform will allow Indigenous management to return to the landscape from which it has been absent for nearly 100 years. In preparation for their return to country, the Wuthathi developed an integrated culture and conservation programme over 8 years ago that addressed cultural and natural conservation imperatives. Wuthathi are now moving into the implementation phase where Native Title has been determined. This study presents outcomes of a workshop, held in October 2010, that identified a range of barriers preventing sound ecological and cultural land management. For example, while funding for multiple land and sea cultural and natural resource management projects is secured, operational funding, management infrastructure and resources are lacking. With Wuthathi people dispersed across many hundreds of kilometres and no permanent infrastructure on country, planning and executing current management projects are severely limited.