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Manbarra Country

The Manbarra people are the Traditional Owners of Palm Island and its outer islands. Historically, Palm Island was established as an Aboriginal Mission in 1918 under the Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act 1897. Many Aboriginal people were forcibly removed from communities across Queensland and placed on Palm Island.

The Manbarra Traditional Owners are eight family groups that have been managing land and sea country of Palm Island for generations. Manbarra Traditional Owners formed the Manbarra Nanggarra Wanggarra Aboriginal Corporation in 2002 under the Aboriginal councils and Association Act 1976. This organisation is the primary organisation for cultural heritage management on Palm Island.


Traditional burial sites are places of great significance for Aboriginal people. Burial sites are found in various landscapes and locations, including coastal, inland or desert sand dunes, amongst midden areas, rock shelters and clay lunettes on lake margins. Some traditional Aboriginal burial sites have ancestral remains wrapped in bark coffins. Bark coffins were made typically from 'bugeroo' bark. The bark was decorated with different colour ochres and bound with string.

The repatriation of Traditional Owner ancestral remains has seen the return of remains to both old burial places and new locations. Traditional and contemporary practices are often used at these burials. Ceremonial activity involves people gathering from across the region to return 'the old people' to their homes.

Elder Story

"Francis Creek located on the north side of Palm Island is a culturally significant place for Manbarra people. This is because Francis Creek is a Traditional Burial Site. Between the months of October 1998 and July 1999 a number of our ancestors were uncovered. Up to fifteen individuals in all were disturbed when sand which was required for a new dam project was extracted from the Francis Creek area. Archaeological analysis of the remains by the Environmental Protection Agency Cultural Heritage section identified the burials as traditional 'bundle' and 'flexed' (foetal type burials).

Our ancestors now rest in a location close to the original sites and this area is called the Francis Creek Reburial Site. Francis Creek is a key cultural heritage site for Manbarra people and it is our obligation, for us the Traditional Owners, to preserve and protect all of our culturally significant sites." - Elder Walter, Manbarra Traditional Owner Group

Contact Details

Manbarra Nanggarra Wanggarra Aboriginal Corporation
Phone: (07) 47238497

Manbarra Traditional Owners approximate area of interest
Manbarra Traditional Owners approximate area of interest

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