The traditional owners of Naree Station are the Budjiti People. Their ancestral lands along the Paroo River span two states – far western NSW and over the border into Queensland.
Last Tuesday was a momentous day as the Budjiti, or Paroo River People, celebrated their native title determination in Queensland over 11,000 square kilometres southwest of Cunnamulla.
A Federal Court session was convened at the historic woolshed on Currawinya National Park, and attended by around 200 people. Bush Heritage Australia was privileged to be invited to join the formalities and the celebration feast after the emotional determination ceremony.
The determination formally acknowledges the Budjiti People’s interests over their traditional lands in Queensland, including the towns of Eulo and Hungerford, and their rights to use their country to camp, hunt, fish, gather, protect, teach and conduct ceremonies in accordance with traditional law.
We caught up with many of the Elders at Currawinya who had travelled from as far as Alice Springs and Adelaide to be at the event. Many local Budjiti people also attended. Elder Ruby Eulo from Enngonia, not far from Naree, sums up the significance of the determination beautifully:
….this land is very much a part of me as I am from this land. My blood runs through my country. I feel it when I re-tell my people’s stories. I feel it when I am sitting where my old people used to sit. It means more to me than words can describe…
Three generations of the Eulo family stayed for a couple of days at Naree on their way to and from the celebrations – Phil Eulo, his four children and their partners, and all 6 of his grandchildren – all from the Maitland area of NSW – a very long day’s drive from Naree.
It’s the first time the young ones have joined Phil at Naree, an event we have been wishing and planning for since our arrival here more than two years ago. All of them loved visiting Naree and have vowed to return.
The Paroo River decided to add its own special twist to the celebrations on the day. Flood waters from recent rainfall in Queensland reached the river crossing at Hungerford just as we were making the one hour trip with the Eulos to the ceremony from Naree – and we crossed with a few inches of water starting to run across the causeway.
By the time we were returning the river was in flood so we all had a 400km, 6-hour return trip to Naree around the long way home! A day that none of us will forget anytime soon.