Cherbourg (//), formerly known as Barambah, Barambah Aboriginal Settlement and Cherbourg Aboriginal Settlement, is a rural town and locality in the Aboriginal Shire of Cherbourg, Queensland, Australia.
Cherbourg is located off the Bunya Highway approximately 250 kilometres (155 mi) north-west of Brisbane and 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) from the town of Murgon. It is situated on Barambah Creek, close to Bjelke-Petersen Dam.
Wakka Wakka (Waka Waka, Wocca Wocca, Wakawaka) is an Australian Aboriginal language spoken in the Burnett River catchment. The Wakka Wakka language region includes the landscape within the local government boundaries of the North and South Burnett Regional Council, particularly the towns of Cherbourg, Murgon, Kingaroy, Gayndah, Eidsvold and Mundubbera.
The town was founded as a settlement for Aboriginal people, known as an Aboriginal reserve, under a policy of segregation being pursued by the Government of Queensland under the Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act 1897. In 1900, the Salvation Army negotiated for the establishment of the Barambah Aboriginal Settlement, which was gazetted over 7,000 acres (2,800 ha) on 23 February 1901. It was sponsored by the Ipswich Aboriginal Protection Society.
The mission took its name from the original 1840s pastoral run, "Barambah", which was taken up as a grazing run in 1843 by J.S. Ferriter and Edmund Uhr.
It was known as Barambah Aboriginal Settlement from c.1904 to 1932 and then Cherbourg Aboriginal Settlement until 1986. The name was changed to avoid confusion with the Barambah pastoral station. Other names include Barambah Aboriginal Mission, Barambah Aboriginal Reserve, Barambah Mission Reserve and Barambah Mission Station.
The name Cherbourg derives from the parish name, which takes its name the original 1840s pastoral run name, which is believed to be a corruption of Chirbury, a town in Shropshire, England, the birthplace of pastoralist Richard Jones who leased the pastoral run in the 1850s.
It was initially populated with a few local Aboriginal people, but others from the Esk region and further afield were soon sent to the reserve. Many were forcibly removed from their land and "settled" at Barambah. People from 109 different areas were mixed together and they were not allowed to speak their own languages. The effect of mixing these different groups of people together and forcing them to learn to speak a foreign language (English) has been an almost total loss of their cultural heritage. Many of the languages are considered to be extinct, surviving only in notes and recordings stored at the University of Queensland. The settlement housed a reformatory school and training farm, a home training centre for girls, a hospital, dormitories in which the women and children lived, and churches of various denominations. Training was provided in a variety of agricultural, industrial and domestic fields. People were hired out as cheap labour and at one stage they were not allowed to leave the reserve. In fact, until the referendum in 1967, the Indigenous people at Cherbourg were not even counted in the census.
Barambah Aboriginal School opened in 1904, its name changing to Cherbourg Aboriginal School in 1931-1932. The school was operated by the Department of Native Affairs until the 1960s when it came under the control of Queensland Department of Education and became Cherbourg State School.
The reserve was administered by the Aboriginal Protection Society, Ipswich, until February 1905, when control passed to the Government of Queensland and a Superintendent was appointed, who reported to the Chief Protector of Aborigines. There were approximately 2079 documented removals of Aboriginal people to Barambah between the years of 1905 and 1939.
In 1982, Cherbourg was granted a Deed of Grant in Trust (DOGIT), becoming self-managed by its own local authority. The Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council was formally granted local government status in 2004.
The district was renamed Cherbourg on 8 December 1931 to avoid confusion with the mail deliveries to the Barambah pastoral station. Cherbourg is the name of the parish, which derives from the original 1840s pastoral run name, which thought to be derived from Chirbury, the town in Shropshire, the birthplace of Richard Jones, the lessee of the run.
Cherbourg Provisional School opened on 1932 for the children of the white officials, separate to the school for the Aboriginal children. It closed on 1941.
Cherbourg Post Office opened on 15 November 1965 and closed in 1986.
Over the years, the policies towards Aboriginal peopl changed from protection to assimilation and eventually participation and a measure of self-government with the passage of the Community Services (Aborigines) Act 1984. The Act provided for elected community councils who could make recommendations to the Minister for Community Services on matters relating to the progress, development and wellbeing of the people they represented. On 28 August 1986 a Deed of Grant in Trust was granted to the Cherbourg community, giving this council official status. The Local Government (Community Government Areas) Act 2004 gave Cherbourg formal legal recognition as a local government.
Alcohol limits were imposed on Cherbourg residents in March 2009 in an attempt to reduce violence. In 2009, then-Mayor Sam Murray claimed the restrictions were not being enforced and the problem was being pushed underground.
Cherbourg has a population of around 1241 people, making it Queensland's third largest Aboriginal community. The town is located on traditional lands that belong to the 'Wakka Wakka' (Waka Waka), people, but many different clan groups are also represented, including 'Gubbi Gubbi' (Kabi Kabi) people. A sign on entry to the town reads "Many Tribes, One Community". In 2006, median individual income for residents of Cherbourg was $227 per week, less than half the national median. 98.8% of housing in the town is stand-alone houses.
The community participates in Work for the Dole scheme. Unemployment in the town is high as there is very little genuine work to be found in the town or in nearby Murgon. Results from 2006 census survey reported 31.4% of the workforce was employed full-time while 49.5% worked part-time and 5.8% were unemployed.
Cherbourg State School is a government primary (Early Childhood-6) school for boys and girls at Fisher Street ( In 2018, the school had an enrolment of 130 students with 17 teachers and 40 non-teaching staff (25 full-time equivalent). It includes a special education program.).
Cherbourg is home to the Nurunderi (meaning taught by Great Spirit) campus of TAFE Queensland South West ( ). It offers general courses of study as well as ones specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. All people are welcome to study at this campus.
Other facilities include:
- Cherbourg Police Station ( )
- Cherbourg Fire Station ( )
- Cherbourg SES Facility ( )
- Cherbourg Hospital & Community Health Centre ( with heliport ( ) )
- Caroline Archer – activist for Aboriginal culture and rights
- Maroochy Barambah – opera singer
- Adrian Blair – Olympic boxer
- Harold Blair – tenor and activist
- Selwyn Cobbo – NRL rugby league player born in Cherbourg
- Marlene Cummins – musician and activist
- Frank Fisher – Rugby League player
- Lionel Fogarty – poet and political activist
- Eddie Gilbert – Australian cricket player
- Ruth Hegarty – author
- Albert Henry – cricketer
- Jerry Jerome – boxer
- Chris Sandow – NRL rugby league player
- Chris Sarra – Indigenous educator
- Willie Tonga – Australian & Queensland representative rugby league player
- Daniel Alfred Yock – dancer
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