Cherbourg Mission

Cherbourg / Bamaga - Wakka Wakka

Cherbourg Aboriginal community is situated near Murgon, approximately three hours drive from Brisbane.  Cherbourg is the oldest and the largest aboriginal community in Queensland.


The original mission was located at Durundur, but was later relocated to a new site then called Barambah.  In 1931 Barambah changed its name to Cherbourg (French), due to postal confusion with the local Barambah station.


Cherbourg was established as a government settlement in 1904, it was originally created to bring together larger tribes from the Southern Queensland districts.  Over the years people at Cherbourg originate from approximately 40 different groups, sent against their will to Cherbourg, including the local Wakka Wakka people. 


Cherbourg was regazetted as an Aboriginal Reserve on 20 September 1941.  In August 1986, Cherbourg Community Council was given title to the lands as a Deed of Grant in Trust (DOGIT) for an area of 3,3130 ha.



In 1904 Cherbourg had 140 residents and 1920 the population was over 600.  Gerard Guthrie estimated in 1973, that there were 942 residents living at Cherbourg.  The 1996 Census population of Cherbourg was 1064.


General Reference

The material mentioned is held at the John Oxley Library.  It is advisable that you view the Manuscript Queensland and catalogue database for an up-to-date listing of resources.  When visiting the John Oxley Library, view the “Aboriginal – Cherbourg” photographic collection and Newspaper collection as well.


Queensland Government gazette [microform].  
Summary:  Government Gazettes the opening of Cherbourg, found at 23 February 1901 page 485 and 20 September 1941.

Blake, Thomas Wesley (2001) A dumping ground : a history of the Cherbourg settlement   St Lucia, Qld. : University of Queensland Press.
Summary: information concerning Barambah and Cherbourg settlement.

Watson, F.J. (1944). Vocabularies of four representative tribes of South Eastern Queensland. Brisbane: Royal Geographical Society of Australasia.
Summary:  With grammatical notes thereof and some notes on manners and customs, also, a list of Aboriginal place names and their derivations.  Contains vocabularies for Kabi-kabi, Wakka-wakka, Yugumbir and Yugarabul languages

Ford, Roger & Blake, Thom. Indigenous peoples of southeast Queensland: an annotated guide to ethno-historical sources, 1998
Summary:  This book guide you to resources such as journals, books, primary, government and institutional reports, colonial newspaper articles and Aboriginal lore focusing on South-East Queensland.
Steele, J.C., (1984) Aboriginal pathways: in southeast Queensland and the Richmond River St. Lucia, Qld. : University of Queensland Press, 1984, c1983.
Summary:  One of the best books you will read on traditional sites and information.

Barambah Cherbourg, 1904-1979,<Cherbourg, Qld. : Cherbourg Anniversary Organizing Committee, 1979?>
Mok, Jeannie (2005) Cherbourg Dorm Girls ; Fortitude Valley, Qld Jeannie Mok May 2005.
Summary:  Features vignettes of 12 Aboriginal women who grew up in the dormitories of the Cherbourg
Mission near Murgon.

Hegarty, Ruth (2003) Bittersweet journey;  St Lucia, Qld. : University of Queensland Press, 2003.
Summary: The sequel to the award-winning memoir, Is that you, Ruthie?

Cherbourg [videorecording] Sydney : Australian Broadcasting Corporation, c1999,  Kam Yan Series;
Summary: Video on Cherbourg Aboriginal Community, it’s changes in recent years, including the building of new homes by local apprentices, the opening of a TAFE college, and the training of community rangers to pass on cultural.

Holt, Albert (2001) Forcibly removed: Broome, WA : Magabala, 2001.
Summary:  Biography of Albert Holts life at Cherbourg.

Higgins, Geoff & Painter, Keith (1987) Chinney : the two lives of Jack O'Chin - 1st ed; Burwood NSW : Aborigines Inland Mission of Australia, 1987
Summary: Biography of Jack O’Chin, resident of Cherbourg.

Cherbourg shorts [electronic resource] 1 DVD ; 4 3/4 in,  [Brisbane] : QUT Publications, 2004.
Summary:  This DVD contains short films produced by the Cherbourg State School, by the Cherbourg

Digital Project which is a program designed to engage Indigenous youth in digital technology through training school staff, students and community members.

Manuscript Title: Cherbourg Indigenous Photographs (1900-19501900-1950)


Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council
C/O Post Office, Cherbourg  Q. 4605
Barambah Road, Cherbourg   Q. 4605

Phone:     07 4168 186607 4168 1866 or      07 4168 145907 4168 1459

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