Decades of murder and destroying homes prompts calls to close down Aurukun

by staff writers

Aurukun, a name that instills fear in some communities, disgust in others and hopelessness among white people continues its decades-long tribal clashes with no end in sight.

More than 60 police officers still remain at the community to quell the foment after two youths stabbed a 37 year old resident to death on New Year’s day.

The town remained in lockdown for a week as an angry mob went from house to house and government buildings seeking retribution.

Decades of violence at Aboriginal community of Aurukun prompts calls to disband the community

The community of 1200 is home to five spiritual clans, the Wanam, Winchanam, Puch, Apalech, and Sara.

Since the latest rioting it is believed 300 of its members have departed to Cairns, Mareeba, Coen, Mossman and other locations, some say never to return.

Police Superintendent Geoff Sheldon said a mob had targeted the health clinic at 6:00pm on New Year’s Day, before moving on to the airport and the homes of the accused men.

“They were seeking vengeance for the stabbing that occurred and they were going house to house looking for what they believed were two offenders responsible for the death of the man,” he told the ABC.

“It become a violent confrontation at each and every residence.

“There were 250 people wandering the streets of Aurukun — all armed, all aggressive — and it became a dangerous situation, not only for our staff, but members of the public and other government staff.”

Cape York Inspector Mark Henderson blamed illicit alcohol for fuelling the unrest. The week before 65 bottles of rum were seized on their way to Aurukun. Bottles of rum can fetch up to $250 each on the black market, which makes sly-grogging a lucrative enterprise for those willing to run the periodic road blocks between Mareeba and the Aurukun turn-off.

Hundreds of residents fled into the bush after the violence started. Six homes were burnt down and other property wrecked. Some Cape York residents firmly believe the destroyed houses should not be rebuilt.

The replacement cost of these homes will be more than $600,000 each, based on the average building cost of a community home on Cape York. Removal of the wreckage will be at least $50,000 each.

A female Traditional Owner from the community told this scribe three years ago following another similar outburst of violence, the ailing community should be closed down and its members disbursed among other communities or relocated to Cairns.

“This would solve a lot of problems,” said the Wik tribal member.

Aurukun has been pandered to by the Labor Party for decades, having a disproportionate amount of money spent on infrastructure and flowery social programs designed by Brisbane bureaucrats.

Three years ago Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk funded a new fibre optic cable from Weipa to Aurukun costing $2.5m because phone and internet reception was not, what she described as  “up to scratch” in Aurukun.

Furthermore she said television and internet programs would help quell the violent atmosphere in the community.

Phone and video games actually made the residents worse as it turns out.

Decades of drug and alcohol-fuelled in-fighting and assault of contractors, government employees and police should have been sufficient evidence that the airy-fairy ALP programs including a ban on alcohol were not working.

The five Northern Peninsula Area communities would like similar largesse. They have suffered from poor to no phone reception for many years and have not been sprayed with government gifts like the bottomless pit of Aurukun.

Nearby grazier and long-time Peninsula resident John Witherspoon said like all other communities there were some good people and some “not so good” living at Aurukun.

He said ever since the missionaries left Aurukun in the 1960’s the community started falling apart and marriage between clans usually started trouble when elders did not agree with some cross-tribal marriages.

“The community should be opened up to outside businesses and people instead of being too locked up and isolated. They could have a dairy farm with suitable cattle and grow fruit and vegetables and start commercial fishing,” Mr Witherspoon said.

“Businesses should be given funds but not as handouts and starting up money should be loans which have to be repaid just like everybody else.”

The recent trouble could have started because the normal police officers were away on vacation and relieving police may not have an understanding of local issues. Experience shows the presence of female officers in the community has not always worked well after a serious rape some years ago.

“It’s a hard one,” he said.

“They have a lot of country so why not start up a proper cattle business instead of getting in contractors to harvest feral cattle once a year?

“In the 70’s and 80’s Bill Whiteman and Bill Kelly were managers there who kept the men on the outstations like Blue Lagoon and Piccaninny and their own blocks of country.

“There were good houses built on these outstations but some burnt down because the yards were not kept clean of grass.

“The trouble is the state government gives them all this land that they can’t do anything with. They can’t borrow against it to buy cattle and there are far too many environmental rules that stop grazing.

“They used to have Wathaneen outstation south of the Archer River and they had an army duck for transport but when one of the Aurukun boys was crossing the river he forgot to put the bung in and it sank. It is still there on the bottom today.”

On a more disturbing note 12 months ago a group of locals from Aurukun arrived at a grazing property south of the community and demanded the white property owner leave the place within a week or they would move in and take it over themselves.

If he didn’t leave the group inferred the homestead could be torched.

“They were quite menacing when they arrived in an old Toyota out the front of the house,” the property owner said at the time.

This group has not returned to the property.

The origins of Aurukun from the State Library of Queensland

‘Aurukun was originally known as Archer River Mission Settlement.  It was originally established in 1904 for the Presbyterian Church by the Reverend Arthur and Mrs Richter who were assisted in the early settlement period by T W Holmes.  The Richters led the establishment of the settlement up until 1913 when they returned to Germany, apparently for a short visit or holiday, intending to return in due course. However, due to the outbreak of the First World War, they were unable to return to Australia and were eventually replaced by Mr and Mrs Holmes.  The reserve was expanded in 1922 to include the Kendall River area located to the south.  The town eventually became known as Aurukun which is said to have local meaning associated with a large lagoon on the Watson River, to the south.  At the beginning, the majority of the buildings, including the church and mission house were constructed of local materials by residents using a range of traditional skills.  Over time however, stronger and more permanent buildings were constructed using materials brought in from elsewhere.’

New soap removing skin rashes


A newly developed soap for relief from most skin disorders and parasites is available for veterinary and human use.

Mareeba entrepreneur Keith Courte said he developed the soap after working in New Guinea.

Charcoal soap manufacturer Keith Courte with a sample of his remarkable soap

He said there were plenty of skin ailments which could be caught in PNG and he decided to make a soap which would remove parasites and rashes.

To his surprise after sending soap to the Fly River region for evaluation the locals said it cleaned up all their skin problems.

He has numerous testimonials from PNG and northern Australia backing the soap.

One happy user from Murray Island in the Torres Strait said she had a bad rash on her cheeks and nose for years and after a short time using the charcoal soap her rash had disappeared.

Another said the soap had almost cleaned up her scabies.

Mr Courte recently dispatched a carton of soap to a coal mine where miners have been experiencing problems with heat rash.

A dog kennel proprietor said he had used the soap on dogs with persistent fleas and skin rashes and most cleared up after a few washes.

On the Tablelands a horse owner said the charcoal soap worked wonders on her horses.

Mr Courte can be contacted on  for orders or enquiries.

Beautiful retirement cattle property on Atherton Tablelands available


Beautiful Atherton Tablelands property for sale

Malanda 125 acres FH fully fenced, permanent creek water, well-established bracchi and legume pastures, good access, 10 minutes town. Yard, loading ramp.

Excellent bullock paddock run 75 head all year round. High rainfall, reliable. The 5 bedroom, 2 level pole home on this property is one of the best on the Tablelands.

In excellent condition its polished, exotic timber floors and timber ceilings are a sight to behold.

There are commanding views of the area from its two glassed-in verandah studios. Inspection is highly recommended. Asking $1.1m including cattle. Call Ron Ford, Atherton on 0488004217

Satellite city planned for Port Stewart by former Bligh Labor Government

first published in June 2018

The Labor State Government had secret plans to create a city of 60,000 people at Port Stewart, along the east coast of Cape York Peninsula, east of the township of Coen, according to a deep, state ALP source.

It also planned to mine much of Cape York, in deference to demands by the Greens and conservation bodies to nominate the Peninsula for World Heritage.

In 2003 the World Bank chartered a specially equipped aircraft from the US to survey a vast area north from Townsville to the Torres Strait for all valuable natural resources which included minerals and timber.

The largest and most pure deposit of silica sand in the world, Shelburne Bay was handed to the Wuthati people two years ago by the Federal Court. The only surviving, legitimate land claimant says he was defrauded by a member of the Cape York Land Council, consequently losing his claim over the former cattle property. Picture Kerry Trapnell

Subsequent research by former Senator Len Harris’ Mareeba office revealed the survey had calculated the value of Far North Queensland mineral reserves to be in the vicinity of half a trillion US dollars.

Another plan according to Traditional Owners is to kick-start the National Party-era space station at former cattle properties Bromley and Shelburne Bay, on the east coast.

Indigenous inhabitants of Cape York however, have no knowledge of former Premier Anna Bligh’s secret city plan, believed to be devised in conjunction with Rothschild Bank as principal mortgagee of Queensland Incorporated.

The ALP source said the Cabinet in 2010 had proposed to turn Cape York Peninsula into “one big coal seam gas field.”

A new city built on the old Port Stewart site presumably would be the base for the intended mining fields to the west.

Such a proposition would revile the eco-terrorists of the Greens, World Wildlife Fund and the more sedate Australian Conservation Foundation. These pseudo-conservation bodies have been propping up the ALP for decades.

The Labor Party does not have much option with Rothschild Bank to which it owes at best estimates $60 billion, having it origins with the Goss government of 25 years ago.

Former incompetent Labor Premier Anna Bligh had plans to turn Cape York Peninsula into a major coal seam gas mining field with a supporting city at Port Stewart

Premiers Beattie and Bligh were quick to jump onto the bank bandwagon, reportedly from which they received millions of dollars in fees.  Indeed who would have thought the former, incompetent Labor Premier Bligh would have made it to the position of CEO for the nefarious Australian Bankers Association?

Depopulation of the Peninsula continues under the Labor Government as indigenous people are pushed from their traditional home lands with dodgy deals done by the Environment and Natural Resources Departments preventing traditional owner groups from utilising their vast cattle properties.

Only a few operational cattle properties remain after others have been either purchased or resumed by the State Government ostensibly to hand back to Traditional Owners.

Most white ownership has already gone.

The government cunningly selects an appropriate representative of an indigenous Prescribed Body Corporation to negotiate hand-over conditions, mostly not in favour of indigenous beneficiaries.

After the deal has been done, as in the case of the Olkola PBC, the group discovered the government had pulled a swifty by handing over five former viable, destocked cattle properties totalling 633,630 hectares or 1,565,066 acres of which only a fraction could be utilised for grazing cattle due to environmental overlays. The five properties once carried a total herd of 14,000 head.

A large portion of the holdings had been gazetted as national park, nature reserve or environmental research.

The Peninsula’s 15 PBC’s have less control over so-called Aboriginal freehold than they did with DOGIT or native title parcels.

Thus the government calls the shots when it comes to land use, in particular mining which can occur on all titles.

Shelburne Bay silica reserves

An indigenous group, the Wuthati clan, reputedly a front for Cape York Partnerships founder Noel Pearson, in the Federal Court two years ago , was handed native title over Shelburne Bay Pastoral Holding and its silica sand deposits, the largest and purest deposit in the world with an estimated value of more than $3 billion.

The inaccessible Shelburne Bay lies 150 klm south of the Tip of Cape York nestled in along the eastern coastline and is a favourite haunt for illegal dugong and turtle fishermen.

The silica sand dunes extend 100 klm south from the bay.

Twenty five years ago a prominent politician was accused of trafficking valuable parrots and other birdlife from a helipad near the towering dunes.

According to documents filed in the Federal Court in 2016 by another TO group which opposed the claim, the Wuthati totem is a stingray and there are no living persons with an attachment to the land.

Former owners of Shelburne Bay, Dal and Eileen Nixon maintained their research, beginning in the early 1960’s when the family took up the lease, found there were no living people with any connection to Shelburne Bay or were there any traceable descendants of the traditional people from the area.

As a Native Title researcher for Agforce the late Mrs Nixon proved there was only one possible legitimate living claimant to her 1 million acre grazing lease, which was resumed by the notorious Labor Government of Peter Beattie in 2003.

At the time she said the only living, legitimate claimant could have been her former long-time employee, Meun Lifu, now the senior TO of Yadaikana Tribal Council of Elders at Cowal Creek.

An examination of the board members for Cape York Partnerships, a CYLC affiliate, reveals the line-up resembles any bank board in Australia.

A number of CYP board members have bank connections including Westpac, National Bank of Australia, various merchant banks, a Secretary of the Department of Treasury, Macquarie Bank, a former private Secretary to the infamous PM Bob Hawke, P&O Cruiseships, Bank of Melbourne (owned by the Jewish fraternity), ANZ, an advisor to the nearby ALP sanctuary of Wattle Hill holding, mining contractors, a Wik representative, Aboriginal company Bama Services and not forgetting the lawyers.

This avaricious mob will have its corporate fingers well into any future development of the vast silica reserve.

If the Labor Government, pushed by the banks to repay principal and not just interest on its published, actual debt of at least $115 billion, has the political will to mine the scattered, known, substantial coal seam gas reserves on Cape York then it can do just that.

Some TO’s believe the reason for Cape York Land Council and Cape York Partnerships pursuing the disputed Number 1 Claim over all unclaimed or unallocated land on Cape York is the final part of the jigsaw to allow large-scale mining of the Peninsula.

The widely disputed Number 1 claim also will enable the State Government to nominate parts of the Peninsula for World Heritage in an effort to appease the by now, frothing-at-the-mouth spokesmen for conservation bodies.

Another Cairns ALP source said the recently announced $2.4 billion agricultural project for Cape York community Aurukun would not ever occur under the present State Government.

However it could be utilised in the future to feed the population of the proposed new City at Port Stewart.


Mining giant BHP at present is trawling among the multitude of indigenous groups, committees, PBC’s and NGO’s  servicing the Peninsula, offering vast riches for ‘worthwhile’ indigenous community projects.

A line-up of Cape York Partnerships board members can be found at:

Do your bit for plant life – buy a CO2 generator

Johnson CO2 Generator

Carbon dioxide is one of the essential ingredients in green plant growth, and is a primary environmental factor in greenhouses. CO2 enrichment at 2, 3 or 4 times natural concentration will cause plants to grow faster and improve plant quality and help save the planet.

Modern growers are becoming increasingly aware of the value of CO2. Particularly now that most greenhouses are purposely shutting out CO2 to conserve energy.

The Johnson CO2 Generator automatically provides the carbon dioxide to meet maximum growing potentials – and operates for only pennies a day. The Johnson Generator can easily be installed in any greenhouse. No expensive ductwork is necessary and CO2 is diffused evenly without supplemental fans.

Join with modern growers everywhere – use Johnson CO2 Generators – the low cost way to produce CO2 – the nutrient of the new millennium.

Why you get more rapid and efficient growth and better plant quality with Johnson CO2.

Plants must absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) in combination with water, soil nutrients and sunlight to produce the sugars vital for growth. A shortage of any of these requirements will retard the growing process. Normally there are approximately 300 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere; when this level is increased to over 1 ,000 ppm, results are higher production and better plant quality. The Johnson Generator provides up to 1,500 ppm per unit in an average 24′ x 200′ greenhouse or an equivalent 50,000 cu. ft. volume based on one air change per hour.

Nighttime levels in a greenhouse range from 400 to 500 ppm due to plant respiration. Shortly after sunrise this level will drop to normal atmosphere (300 ppm) due to the plant using the early light to start photosynthesis. After 3 to 4 hours of early morning sunlight the CO2 level can drop to around l00 to 150 ppm, then growth is practically stopped. Supplemental CO2 added during this period can substantially increase your plant and flower production. By adding CO2, during winter months when greenhouse ventilators are closed and when low CO2 concentration becomes a limiting factor in growth, users are obtaining yield and bloom quality which is normally associated with spring and summer.

CO2 More Important Than Ever
The Johnson CO2 Generator is more important than ever because greenhouse growers, trying to conserve energy, are shutting out CO2. Rising fuel costs have forced many growers to use doubled-layered glass, etc., to conserve energy – as a result much less CO2 is entering the greenhouse.

How to use the Johnson CO2 Generator
When there is sunlight and the vents are closed, CO2 should be added continuously to your greenhouse. If the vents are opened because of heat build up the generator should continue to operate for about 2 hours and then be shut off. Approximately 1 Lb. of CO2 per hour per 1,000 sq. ft. yields 1,000 ppm’s of CO2. A 4,000 sq. ft. house requires at least 4 Lbs. of CO2 per hour. If CO21evel drops off from 1,000 ppm’s to 500 ppm’s on a clear sunny day, you can easily adjust to a higher burning rate to make up for the more rapid absorption of CO2 by plants. Most growers use their Johnson Generator daily in winter from approximately 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.;gs_greenhouse_heaters;pg111081.html

Cape York beaches clean up yields tonnes of plastic

Messages in a bottle washed up on a remote Far North Queensland beach are not the only treasures Vanessa Carey and her band of volunteers find during foreshore clean ups.

Tonnes of rubbish including plastics, ghost nets and bottles are covering Cape York beaches like never before and pose a real threat to the survival of marine life.

Sixteen volunteers from the Tangaroa Blue Foundation, which staged its first clean-up in Western Australia 15 years ago, recently converged on the Five Beaches area along the eastern side of the Tip of Cape York Peninsula.

In Maori and Polynesian mythology, Tangaroa is the god of the ocean.

Popular with the 40,000 or so four wheel drive vehicles which travel to the Tip each dry season, the Five Beaches track offers a unique adventure traversing the untouched foreshores of the Peninsula passing by huge Aboriginal middens (old deposits of marine shells) nestled between the sand dunes.

In 2016 the far northern beaches clean-up, 8,303 items produced more than 1.75 tonnes of debris from along foreshores starting at Somerset on the eastern side of Cape York near the Tip.

The Australian Government has supported the removal of rubbish by Tangaroa Blue Foundation from northern shorelines under the Australian Marine Debris Initiative with funding under the Reef Clean project providing vehicles, provisions and camping equipment.

The program also covers the cleaning up of major waterways, creeks and stormwater drains.

Hazel Bushby,16 and Dylan Long, 15 with Vanessa Carey(r) are two of the youngest members of the team

Volunteers come from a multitude of backgrounds, from young to old, originating from across the nation.

Coordinator of the Tip project, Vanessa Carey, from Townsville, said the campaigns also collected rubbish from any waterways because most of them were connected to the ocean.

“We work with National Parks and indigenous ranger groups all the time in each region who usually help us remove the debris from the beaches,” she said.

“They bring it back to camp where the volunteers will sort it for landfill, and record it but the majority goes to recycling or for art supplies.

“After that the rangers come with trucks and utes and we give it to them in bags and bulk bags. About 95 per cent is plastic.

“We went to the Tip and we found local litter definitely not washing in; it was obviously visitors leaving their drink bottles and cans behind but there wasn’t much though but there was some up in the rocks.

In 2016 the clean-up at Chili Beach, north of the Aboriginal community of Lockhart yielded 6 tonnes of rubbish.

Volunteers have quite a philosophical view of why they spend weeks at a time away from families, participating in an often arduous collection of rubbish in remote parts of Queensland.

Dylan Long,15; Peter Spelling,71; Janine Thompson,65; Romayne Westwood,64; Hazel Bushby,16; Louise French,65 and Molly Blake,26

Louise French explained her motive: “My friend Romaine was talking about the clean-up and it was at her suggestion that I make contact with Vanessa to sign up, it has been one of the BEST decisions I’ve made. I joined not just for the great opportunity of seeing another part of our beautiful country but also to help in doing something so rewarding as to save our marine life from human destruction.”

Peter Spelling wanted to do something for his granddaughter: “As a semi retiree l was looking for something different to do as a volunteer. There is so much in the news about the state of the ocean l was given the opportunity by the Tangaroa Blue Foundation to give something back to my adopted country. I have an 18 month old granddaughter and hope that in some small way it will make the future for her and her generation a little brighter.”

Volunteers collect the debris in large carry bags then take it back to their campsite where it is sorted and catalogued.

A detailed analysis of barcodes and brand names on plastics revealed much of the debris originates from overseas and not from Australia as first thought.

Vanessa and her crew have become super sleuths by tracking debris and analysing barcodes on plastic bottles which eventually identified an illegal fishing operation.

At Chilli beach in 2016 a recovered Vietnamese plastic drink bottle with a new label was reported to Borderforce on Thursday Island.

Borderforce then passed on the information to ocean mapping scientists and based on GPS points provided by Tangaroa Blue, scientists were able to map offshore currents which led to a fleet of Vietnamese fishing vessels operating illegally in Australian waters.

Well-wisher messages in a bottle

Unusual and interesting items have been found on beaches but perhaps the most intriguing was a sealed bottle containing jumbled messages written on paper, found in May 2018 at Cape Bedford, 400 klm north of Cairns

Message in a bottle washed up on Cape Bedford

It could have been hand-written by a teenager or child with a penchant for a quality car. One part of the message seems to be a child’s wish list:

“I wish to have a mansion with everyone’s own space to have my siblings, parents, grandparents nieces and nephews living in one house….”

It rambles on, “I wish I could get a good sleep….I wish for happiness to all, end war and …….I wish one day to own a Range Rover…”


The Australian Marine Debris Initiative was created 15 years ago as a sharing platform for groups or individuals to contribute rubbish data as a means to create a long-term solution rather than a band-aid simply by removing debris from beaches.

Vanessa says just cleaning up is not enough.

“We need to take that extra step and record what we’re finding so that the issue is solved at the source by education and evidence provided from the data which could change legislation.”

‘Did you lose a thong? No I found one’

AMDI data reveals how perilous it is for marine life to live among a sea of plastic and ropes much of which ends up in the stomachs of fish, turtles, sharks and many other marine animals.

This list is from the latest clean-up along Far Northern beaches:

A total of 32,552 hard plastic remnants reveal stages of degradation and duration the items have been immersed:

  • 7621 plastic lids, bottle tops
  • 1315 rope scraps
  • 1068 plastic soft remnants
  • 918 rubber thongs
  • 913 plastic drink bottles
  • 527 pieces of broken glass
  • 301 plastic personal care bottles
  • 297 foam packaging and insulation
  • 257 metres of rope

Nearly all items originate from offshore.

Up to 40,000 pieces of plastic are estimated to float in every square kilometre of ocean. Up to 800 marine species worldwide including 77 Australian species are impacted by marine debris. Over 75% of what is removed from our beaches is made of plastic.

Tangaroablue, a non-profit organisation created the AMDI, which has since removed 1217 tonnes of rubbish over 3346 sites, staffed by 152,583 volunteers collecting 14,833,899 items taking over 390,154 hours.

News covering Torres Strait, Cape York and Mareeba

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