Our History

The Bigambul Determination Area was a particularly violent frontier in the Nineteenth Century. History tells of the fierce bravery of Our Nation’s people, with the resistance of the Bigambul people to pastoral incursion well documented. This resistance was however met with reprisal attacks by settlers and coordinated efforts of ‘dispersal’ by colonial authorities. 

The Bigambul resistance campaign was geared toward causing maximum economic disruption for settlers in an effort to convince them to abandon the region completely. This however would stimulate reprisal attacks and as noted more coordinated efforts of violence and dispersal that would ultimately see the Bigambul population reduced to 300 by the end of 1850 – a significant decline from population estimates of 3,000 Bigambul people pre-settler contact.

The massacres committed against the Bigambul people are well documented, however; there is high likelihood that there were more instances of violence perpetrated than recorded.



  1. Bottoms, T. 2013 A Conspiracy of Silence. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.
  2. Kenny, A. 2011 Bigambul Peoples Native Title Determination Application QUD101/2009 Anthropology Report. Prepared for the Queensland South Native Title Services Limited.
  3. Evans, R. 2007 A History of Queensland. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  4. Copland, M. 1990 A system of assassination: the MacIntyre River Frontier 1837-1850. Unpublished Honours Thesis. School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, The University of Queensland.

Native Title Determination

The Bigambul People are Traditional Owners for approximately 17,134 sq km of country which lies between the towns of St George, Tara and Texas in the Darling Downs region of Queensland. Our country spans part of the Balonne, Goondiwindi, Toowoomba and Western Downs regional councils.

We were formally recognised as Native Title Holders by the Federal Court of Australia in a two-part native title claim, determined by consent on 1 December 2016 and 23 June 2017 respectively.

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Determination Area

Our native title area is as depicted in the map below.

Our Native Title Rights

In respect of our traditional lands and waters, the Bigambul People have non-exclusive rights and interests to:

  • access, be present on, move about on, and travel over, the area;
  • camp, and live temporarily on the area as part of camping, and for that purpose build temporary shelters on the area
  • hunt, fish and gather on the land and waters of the area for personal, domestic and non-commercial communal purposes
  • take, use, share and exchange natural resources from the land and waters of the area for personal, domestic and non-commercial communal purposes
  • take and use the water of the area for personal, domestic and non-commercial communal purposes
  • conduct ceremonies on the area
  • be buried and bury Native Title Holders within the area
  • teach on the area the physical, cultural and spiritual attributes of the area
  • maintain places of importance and areas of significance to the native title holders under their traditional laws and customs and protect those places and areas from physical harm
  • light fires on the area for domestic purposes including cooking, but not for the purpose of hunting or clearing vegetation
  • be accompanied onto the area by certain non-Bigambul people, being people required for the performance of ceremonies and cultural activities.


Earliest occupation dates for Bigambul country from the archaeological record, with an occupation phase at Wallen Wallen Creek on North Stradbroke Island dated in the Pleistocene epoch
Allan Cunningham saw Aboriginal groups camping and living on country in the vicinity of the eastern areas of Bigambul country
First attempt by white people to settle in the lower Macintyre River region with the establishment of Merawah run
First stations in the region abandoned due to resistance of the local Aboriginal populations
John Campbell, an early squatter, described Aboriginal people occupying the region and the existence of semi-permanent dwellings
Abandoned stations on the Macintyre were taken up again including ‘Gundywindi’
Major Mitchell observed camp and huts during his travels in the region
Arrival of Captain Walker and native police at the Macintyre River
Richard Bligh, the first Commissioner for Crown Lands in the Gwydir District, recorded the tribe ‘Pichamboul’ associated with the MacIntyre River
Birth of Bigambul ancestor Queen Susan at Welltown Station
Birth of Edward ‘Ned’ Noble, the son of Bigambul ancestors Jack Noble and Sally Murray, at Winton Station
Ridley described the Bigambul people as ‘Pikumbul’ deived from the affirmative ‘pik’ meaning ‘yes’
Birth of Bigambul ancestor Nellie Yumbeina at Goondiwindi
Bigambul ancestors Jack Noble and Sally Murray received blankets at Goondiwindi
Bigambul ancestor James Armstrong born
Birth of Queen Susan’s oldest son, Joe McGregor, at Welltown
Birth of Queen Susan’s son, William Clevins, born at Nindigully
Birth of Bigambul ancestor Duncan Daniels at Welltown Station
Birth of Nellie Yumbeina’s daughter, Ada Parker, at Toobeah
Birth of Nellie Yumbeina’s son, Henry Armstrong aka Harry Waites, at Winton Station
Birth of Nellie Yumbeina’s son, Jim Armstrong, at Winton Station
W.T. Wyndham described the ‘Bigumble’ tribe as one of four participating tribes in a bora ceremony in northern NSW
Introduction of Meston’s ‘Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act
Some Bigambul people removed to Cherbourg Aboriginal Settlement
Aboriginal fringe camps at Toobeah and Bungunya
Toobeah State School operated
Last Bigambul people left the Toobeah Reserve
First Bigambul native title claim filed (dismissed 2000)
Two Bigambul corporations established: Bigambul, Cultural, Heritage and Land Association Inc. and Bigambul Aboriginal Corporation for Land
Second Bigambul native title claim filed (dismissed 2008)
Third Bigambul native title claim filed (discontinued 2009)
Fourth Bigambul native title claim filed (QUD101/2009)
Native title positively determined over Part A of the Bigambul native title claim (QUD101/2009)
Bigambul Native Title Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC registered
Native title positively determined over Part B of the Bigambul native title claim (QUD101/2009)
Goondiwindi-Toobeah Bigambul Elders Aboriginal Corporation registered