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Kowanyama People v State of Queensland [2009] FCA 1192 (22 October 2009)

Binomial Name: Federal Court of Australia
Date: 22 October 2009
Sub Category:Consent Determination (Native Title Act)
State/Country:Queensland, Australia
The determination area in this consent determination covers about 2,731 square kilometres of land and waters in south-west Cape York. It extends to the sea at high water mark, to the depth of 1.5 metres in the Coleman River and to just south of the Staaten River. It includes most of the Kowanyama Deed of Grant in Trust land. The Kowanyama People refer to this area as the Mitchell River delta lands.
Legal Status: Registered on the National Native Title Register (of native title determinations).
Legal Reference: Federal Court No.:QUD6119/1998; National Native Title Tribunal No.:QC97/9
Subject Matter:Access | Agriculture | Aquaculture | | Compensation | Consultation | Cultural Heritage | Customary Law | Economic Development | Education | Environmental Heritage | Fishing | Land Management | Land Planning | Land Settlement | Land Transaction | Land Use | Native Title | Recognition Agreement / Acknowledgement | Recognition of Native Title or Traditional Ownership | Recognition of Traditional Rights and Interests | Self Government | Water
Summary Information:
Between: Glenette Greenwool, Gary Hudson, Evans Josiah, Griffith Patrick, Dennis Michael, Ravin Greenwool, Richard Barney, Jenny Paul, Donna Brumby, Priscilla Major, Roslyn Gilbert, Una Claude, Corrine Daniel, Kelvin Greenwool, Douglas Eric, Teddy Bernard, Rosemary Henry, George William Adams, Christopher Henry, Roger Inkerman, Lyndell Michelle Anne Jimmy, Roy Dennis Maggable, Hazel Paul, Angela Fiona Edwards, Shaun Kalk Edwards, May Edwards, Lindsay Edwards, Glennis Rose Mudd, Shenane Jago, Colin Lawrence, Arthur Luke, Christine Lawrence, Ivan Jimmy, Shirley Yam, Maria Dick and Robert Holness on behalf of the Kowanyama People (APPLICANTS) and State of Queensland, Commonwealth of Australia, Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council, Greg Hook, Justin Hook, Peter Tonon, Claudine Elizabeth Ward, Gary David Ward, Shane Andrew Ward, Yan Ward, Telstra Corporation Limited, Carpentaria Shire Council, Cook Shire Council, Tablelands Regional Council, Ergon Energy Corporation Limited, Airservices Australia, MDH Pty Ltd, Douglas Price, Bernard James Stumer and Harvest Home Holdings Pty Ltd (RESPONDENTS)

Judge: Greenwood J

Where made: Kowanyama, Cape York, Queensland


Native title exists in the determination area

The Kowanyama People are the native title holders

The native title rights and interests include: the right to possess, occupy and enjoy the parts of the land in which exclusive rights exist, and the right to access, camp on, hunt, fish and gather in the parts of the area in which non-exclusive rights exist.

The non-native title rights and interests include : pastoral leases, water licences, exploration permits, public rights of access and the interests of several organisations.

Detailed Information:
The native title claim of the Kowanyama people is comprised of three areas, Part A, Part B and Part C. The total area of claim covers 19,800 square kilometres. This consent determination concerns Part A.

The Kowanyama people hold exclusive native title rights over approximately 2,518 square kilometres of this land. They will have the right to possess, occupy, use and enjoy the land exclusively.

They also hold non-exclusive native title rights over 213 square kilometres of beach, sea and tidal areas. These non-exclusive rights entitle the Kowanyama people to access, cross and camp on the land, light fires for domestic purposes, take and use resources for domestic purposes (excluding minerals) and maintain and protect important sites. With regards to water, the Kowanyama people may hunt, fish and gather for domestic purposes and take and use water for domestic purposes.

The non native title rights and interests in the land include pastoral leases, water licences, exploration permits, the rights and interests of Kowanyama Aboriginal Council, Kowanyama Cattle Company Pty Ltd, Telstra Corporation Pty Ltd and the state and federal governments. They also include the public right to fish and navigate and the public right to access beaches, stock routes, waterways, beds and banks of foreshores and coastal waters.

Greenwood J found that the State of Queensland had taken a real and significant interest in the proceedings, that the parties had the benefit of independent and competent legal representation in developing the agreement, that the terms of the agreement were clear and that the agreement had been produced as a result of negotiation. The Court, therefore, was able to make the consent determination.

Native title holder Leslie Gilbert stated, 'the land and sea are very important to the Kowanyama People and we've been managing our country as much as we can.' He also said 'the spirit of working together has meant we have taken the time and opportunity to negotiate with the government and other parties for some recognition of our traditional rights. Let's keep this talk going.' (NNTT)

Attorney-General Robert McClelland stated, 'This determination is a significant acheivement and recognition of the ongoing stregth and vitality of the culture of the Kowanyama People'. (Media Release)

The full text of the determination, along with the annexures and schedules is available at

Negotiations regarding parts B and C of this determination must now commence between the Kowanyama People and the respondent parties. These areas of land contain pastoral leases and the Kowanyama township area. (NNTT Background)

Related Entries

  • Kowanyama People - Child Safe House Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA)
  • Errk Oykangand National Park (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land) Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA)
  • Kowanyama Pastoral Area Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA)
  • Carpentaria Shire Council Kowanyama Area Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) (Part B)
  • Kowanyama People and Ergon Energy Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA)
  • Greenwool & Ors on behalf of the Kowanyama People v State of Queensland [2012] FCA1377 (Kooyama People Part B)
  • Greenwool & Ors on behalf of the Kowanyama People v State of Queensland [2012] FCA1377 (Kowanyama People Part C)
  • Daphney on behalf of the Kowanyama People v State of Queensland [2014] FCA 1149 (Kowanyama People Part D)
  • Topsy Creek Barge Ramp Project Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA)
  • Organisation
  • State of Queensland - Respondent
  • Commonwealth of Australia - Respondent
  • National Native Title Tribunal
  • Telstra Corporation Limited - Respondent
  • Federal Court of Australia
  • Cape York Land Council Aboriginal Corporation
  • Carpentaria Shire Council - Respondent
  • Cook Shire Council - Respondent
  • Tablelands Regional Council - Respondent
  • AirServices Australia - Respondent
  • Ergon Energy Corporation Limited - Respondent
  • Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council - Respondent
  • Abm Elgoring Ambung Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC
  • Legislation
  • Native Title Act 1993 (Cth)
  • Native Title Amendment Act 1998 (Cth)
  • People
  • Kowanyama Aboriginal Community - Native Title Claimant
  • Glenette Greenwool & Ors on behalf of the Kowanyama People - Native Title Claimant
  • Greg Hook and other commercial fishers - Respondent

  • Glossary

    Consent Determination (Native Title Act 1993 (Cth)) (Australia)

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