ABOUT EWAMIAN PEOPLE
Yundu Mai means hello in Wamin our language. The Ewamian People are the Traditional Owners of an area of north-western Queensland extending over the Gilbert and Einasleigh River catchment areas including Georgetown, Mount Surprise, Forsayth and Einasleigh. Ewamian country includes Undara Volcanic National Park, Cobbold Gorge and Talaroo Hot Springs. The Savannah Way travels across our country.
The Ewamian People have had native title determined over more than 2.9 million hectares.
Ewamian Culture – Our Country
Ewamian People maintain a spiritual connection to their traditional lands through their belief that country is occupied by a number of spiritual and ancestral beings. These different kinds of spirit beings, some of which are regarded as Ewamian peoples’ ancestors or their ‘old people’, are regarded by Ewamian people as the intrinsic guardians of the land and of Aboriginal Law. In accordance with the laws and customs, Ewamian people are required to speak to these spirit beings when engaging in activities on their country.
The Wamin language was placed on our country by these Dreamtime beings. When we talk about connection to country it means that we feel the presence of our ancestors and spirits in the country we understand that the land has agency and power and that special places need to be managed and protected.
The physical Ewamian estate includes savannah country with open plains and rugged hills and ranges. This area is known for its recent volcanic activity dating back 140,000 years. Over millennia volcanic events and other geological processes shaped the natural environment and created a landscape rich in cultural resources and also moulded an environment with some highly valued minerals and gems. The agates, rhyolite and other stone are ideal for making tools, the sandstone gullies protect permanent springs and rock shelters eroded into the escarpment provided protected living spaces and blank canvases for rock art.
Ewamian People for millennia occupied and adapted the landscape. Ewamian Country is very rich in cultural and significant sites. From rock art, scar trees, artefacts, occupation sites, bora grounds, stone grinding grooves, and ceremonial grounds. The dry conditions have preserved the ochre and engravings and rock art sites can be found along the sandstone escarpments of the Newcastle Ranges and near water sources. Scar trees and artefacts are found right throughout Ewamian Country as are ceremonial and bora grounds. Stone grinding grooves can be found in the rivers and creeks.
Ewamian people describe that the river systems and lagoons were the primary focus for living prior to the arrival of European settlers in the 1860s with the major river systems acting as the ‘roads and highways’ of the Ewamian people. The riverine environment provided major food resources including fish, shellfish, crocodiles, water birds and water plants. We fished with spears, fine woven nets and stone fish traps. Ewamian people travelled across the entire Ewamian estate, hunting, collecting bush foods and resources and engaging in ceremonial activities.
When the gold rushes took place on our country there was a sudden influx of miners who we did not welcome! The Ewamian People are the only recorded Aboriginal group in Australia who successfully defended our territory and repelled the newcomers.
Defending our Country
The Gilbert River Gold Field was declared in 1867. It was the most northerly inland settlement of the developing Queensland frontier at this time and our ancestors the Ewamian occupied this area. When the miners arrived and set up the township of Gilberton Ewamian People fought against the new settlement and waged an ongoing war against the newcomers, retreating to hidden sandstone gorges when pursued. The Gilberton locals built fortified shelters to repel the Ewamian opposition but it was not enough. In 1873 after years of the continual attacks by Ewamian People the Gilberton township was abandoned.
Eventually more miners and pastoralists arrived in our Country and for many years we were dispossessed of most of our land, our Elders were forced to relocate to missions and reserves and were employed on pastoral stations. Ewamian people played a significant role in the development of the pastoral industry. Ewamian people were employed as ringers, cooks, and domestics which at least provided an opportunity for people to live on their cultural estate.
Our language is called Wamin and because Ewamian People were removed from our country it was not spoken fluently after the 1970s.
Ewamian People who remained on the Georgetown Reserve until the 1980s conducted ceremonial practices and corroborees and traditional burial practices. Language was also spoken but unfortunately it is no longer spoken. Ewamian People are working with linguists to revive the Ewamian language. We have been able to start using Wamin again by creating a Welcome to Country in our language and developing interpretive signage for our country. Wamin is called an ergative language and it is an initial consonant dropping. So, it is a complex language.
Talaroo is a great economic and community success! We have a profitable tourism operation that employs local Ewamian People.
Talaroo is a living cultural landscape for Ewamian people, rich with dreaming stories and centred around the healing and culturally vibrant Hot Springs. Talaroo showcases Ewamian hospitality and promotes a deep reconciliation between people, culture and place.
We are achieving our vision for Talaroo which was to support environmentally acceptable economic ventures on Country and ultimately provide financial independence.
Since 2011 our ranger program has delivered effective and culturally appropriate natural and cultural management of Ewamian land by Ewamian Rangers.
Corporate restructuring resulting in the creation of Ewamian People Charitable Trust as well as Ewamian Limited and Ewamian People Aboriginal Corporation (EPAC) as the Prescribed Body Corporate and Talaroo Hot Springs Pty Ltd. This restructuring was designed to be more efficient in the implementation and operations of the business and provide tax benefits and protect both physical and financial assets.
Why have we restructured our corporate entities? Because of the growth and new entities established it was necessary to restructure and to be more efficient. Another reason for this was because of the creation of Ewamian Charitable Trust and making sure we had a robust corporate structure to protect the Ewamian entities and be more effective in our corporate governance.
Ewamian Limited have also been successful in negotiating many major agreements and Indigenous Land Use Agreements, resulting in significant compensation, protection of cultural heritage and other benefits for Ewamian People.
Some of our ILUAs and agreements include:
Etheridge Shire Council (Charleston Dam Project) ILUA
Department of Defence Greenvale Training Area Ewamian ILUA
Talaroo Freeholding ILUA
Forsayth Wind Farm Pty Ltd ILUA and Amendment ILUA
Laneway Mining Agreement
Calcifer Mining Agreement now held by Hunter Bay Silica
Etheridge Shire Council ILUA
Bolwarra Quarry ILUA
Prospectus for Talaroo IPA
Ewamian Limited, in partnership with the CSIRO have developed an investment prospectus for the Talaroo IPA. This prospectus focuses on opportunities in tourism, Indigenous land management, and environmental services. The Ewamian vision is to create value through partnerships that support sustainable development and shared prosperity on Country.
Preserving and practicing Ewamian Culture
Funding received to undertake recording of oral history of people who lived on the reserve in Georgetown. Ewamian Limited have hosted cultural camps on Country, Wamin language and culture workshops and will continue to host events on Country in the future.