Mainland communities A-B

The following brief histories provide researchers with information about the creation of missions and reserves in Queensland.

Aurukun | Bamaga | Barambah | Batavia River | Bellenden Ker | Bellenden Plains | Bethesda | Birdsville | Bloomfield River | Boggy Creek Run | Bogimbah Creek | Boulia | Bowen | Box Hill Runs | Bribie Island | Brisbane | Bunya Country | Burketown

* See the pdf version [Document in PDF format 93 kb] with full bibliographic references

Aitkenvale see Townsville


Aurukun mission opened on the 3rd of August 1904 under the superintendence of Rev. Mr & Mrs Richter at a site selected by Rev. Hey, the superintendent of Mapoon.  Aurukun was established by the Presbyterian Church and was managed by the Board of Ecumenical Mission and Relations (BOEMAR). In 1958, 1,240 square miles of land were gazetted as an Aboriginal reserve. The reserve area was increased to 2,610 square miles in 1959. It was increased again in 1972 to 2,897 square miles. In 1978 control passed to the Aurukun Shire Council in whom it is still vested.


In 1947, under Cabinet directive, a general survey of the Cape York area was carried out to assess the area’s potential for cattle raising, farming and timber getting.  The advice was that the area surveyed was highly suitable for development with large areas available for cultivation with ample supplies of water available for irrigation and for domestic use. The State government began to acquire land in the Cape York Peninsula area in 1948 beginning with land around Mutee Heads, from Red Island Point to the boundary of the Cowal Creek Aboriginal Reserve.  There were about 400 Saibai Islanders already living in the Mutee Heads area by 1948.  Islanders began migrating from the Torres Straits sometime during the previous year under the leadership of Bamaga Ginau. The Island Councillors had been discussing, over several years, a range of strategies to relieve some of the problems facing Islanders in the post-war era, such as unemployment, lack of resources such as timber, and lack of educational facilities for their children. Soon after an initial move of about 25 people in 1947, king tides flooded most of Saibai Island forcing several hundred more islanders to move to the settlement.

Barambah (Cherbourg)

In March 1900 William John Thompson, a member of the Salvation Army negotiated the gazettal of 1,280 acres of land 25 miles north of Nanango as an Aboriginal Mission Station. The site proved to be unsuitable and when the Railways Department required part of the reserve for a new railway, its reserve status was revoked.  A more suitable site was found three miles from the original reserve and a new reserve consisting of 7,000 acres was gazetted in February 1901.

The first Aboriginal people who lived on the reserve came from the Nanango area. In May 1901 groups of Aboriginal people were moved to Barambah from Durundur reserve and Kilkivan. There were no facilities for the new arrivals and development of the settlement was severely hampered by drought and a lack of financial assistance.  In 1905 the Ipswich Aboriginal Protection Society which supported Thompson's endeavours, handed control of Barambah to the Queensland Government.  Thompson was replaced as superintendent by Albert Tronson and his wife Mary who had been at Durundur. Durundur was closed and its Aboriginal residents removed to Barambah. 61 people were forced to walk to Barambah, with the remaining 115 inmates taken by train.

In 1931 the settlement’s name was changed to Cherbourg.  Cherbourg was regazetted as an Aboriginal Reserve on 20 September 1941.  A deed of grant was issued in August 1986 for an area of 3,130 ha.

Batavia River - see Mapoon

Bellenden Ker - see Yarrabah

Bellenden Plains - see Fraser Island

Bethesda (Beenleigh) - see also Nerang

Bethesda was a Lutheran mission established near the Albert River in 1866 by the Rev. J.G. Haussmann, one of the German missionaries from Zion Hill, following his resignation as the Pastor of the Nazareth Lutheran Church at South Brisbane.


Six acres were gazetted as an Aboriginal Reserve in the county of Roseberry, Parish of Muddawarry in January 1888. The reserve was placed under the temporary control of the Diamantina Divisional Board the following year. In April 1951 five acres was gazetted as an Aboriginal reserve in Birdsville. In 1969 control of the reserve passed to the Director of Aboriginal and Island Affairs, as trustee.

Bloomfield River - see Wujal Wujal

Boggy Creek Run (Laura River)

Located in the County of Banks and consisting of 28 square miles, Boggy Run was gazetted as an Aboriginal reserve in 1894. The reserve was placed under trustees control in February 1900. By January 1908 the reserve status had been rescinded.

Bogimbah Creek - see Fraser Island


Five acres of land were reserved for the use of Aboriginal people next to the Burke River in July 1936.


In 1878 76 acres were set aside as an Aboriginal reserve in the Parish of Kelsey, county of Herbert. On 3 of February 1900 JFG Foxton, W.E. Parry-Okeden and W.E. Roth were appointed trustees of a number of reserves including the Kelsey reserve at Bowen. The annual report of 1907 indicates that the reserve had fallen into disuse.

Box Hill Runs - see Georgetown

Bribie Island

The Bribie Island reserve was never officially gazetted but reserved by a Cabinet decision on 20 May 1877. Thomas Petrie recommended in a letter to the Minister for Lands in April 1877 that a "fishing establishment" be formed on the island for Aboriginal people. By 1878 he reported that most of the Aboriginal people on the island had left.

In January 1891 John Adams, the Honorary Secretary of the Aboriginal Protection Association of Queensland, wrote to the Colonial Secretary suggesting Tin Can Bay or Tewantin as potential sites for a reserve to replace the mission station at Bribie Island. This did not eventuate and in November 1892 the Aboriginal Protection Association advised the Colonial Secretary that a number of Aboriginal people had been removed from the Bribie Island Mission Station and taken to Peel Island as a temporary place of residence, awaiting completion of buildings to be erected on the new mission station (Myora) at Stradbroke Island.

Brisbane - Aboriginal Girls Home

In March 1904 the Aboriginal Girls Home in South Brisbane was proclaimed a reserve for the benefit of the Aboriginal inhabitants of the state. The home was established around 1899 for the purposes of accommodating Aboriginal women and girls going into domestic service. Archibald Meston's wife Frances Meston, was in charge of the home in her capacity as Protectoress until February 1900 when Mary Easter Frew (later known as Mary McKeown) was appointed to the position. Mrs Whipham was the matron of the home. The Magdalen Asylum at Wooloowin in Brisbane was also used to accommodate Aboriginal women.

See also
Aboriginal History of the Princess Alexandra Hospital Site

Bunya Country

Land containing bunya trees in the present day Sunshine Coast hinterland, was reserved from occupation by the New South Wales Government in 1842. By the end of 1845 this reservation had fallen into disuse.  The following is a description of the land which was reserved:

It having been represented to the Governor that a District exists to the Northward of Moreton Bay, in which a fruit-bearing Tree abounds, called Bunya or Banya Bunya, and that the Aborigines from considerable distances resort at certain times of the year to this District for the purpose of eating the fruit of the said Tree:- His excellency is pleased to direct that no licences be granted for the occupation of any lands within the said district in which the Bunya or Banya Bunya Tree is found. And notice is hereby given, that the several Crown Lands Commissioners in the New England and Moreton Bay Districts have been instructed to remove any person who may be found in the unauthorised occupation of land whereon the said Bunya or Banya Bunya Trees are to be found. His excellency has also directed that no licences to cut timber be granted within the said districts.


In August 1935 20 acres of land were gazetted as an Aboriginal reserve at Burketown.

* See the pdf version [Document in PDF format 93 kb] with full bibliographic references

Library membership

Become an SLQ member now to access our services, collections and facilities.

Library Shop online

Discover an eclectic range of books, gifts, reproduction prints and more at the Library Shop.