Community

Traditional Owners

The Traditional Owner Reference Group (TORG) is made up of representatives from Yuwibara, Koinmerburra, Barada Barna, Wiri, Ngaro, and Gia and Juru within the boundaries of the Reef Catchments Mackay Whitsunday Isaac (MWI) region. The group plays a role in supporting Indigenous people and organisations to participate in the delivery of NRM activities.

The group regularly convenes meetings to provide an opportunity to work together with stakeholders and the broader community to improve knowledge of cultural heritage values and NRM issues within the region. Importantly, the group provides guidance on what projects they feel are important for funding.

Their involvement is producing real outcomes for the benefit of their lands and the wider community.

Meet the members of the Mackay Whitsunday Isaac Traditional Owner Reference Group

George Tonga – Yuwibara
I am a Traditional Custodian of our Yuwi Lands (Yuwibara descendant). Our connection is through our Great Grandmother Molly Bargo Tonga. Our boundary is from Midge Point to Cape Palmerston and 10 nautical miles off shore. Our people are very passionate about preserving our land and sea for future generations. Myself and my sister, Veronica Ah-Wang, are involved with the TORG (Traditional Owner Reference Group) and we work with Reef Catchments. Last year we were involved with Healthy Rivers to Reef report card and the launch to the Mackay Community and partnerships.

Contact 0458 136 890

Veronica Ah Wang – Yuwibara
I am a custodian for our Yuwi land (Yuwibara descendant). Our people are very passionate about preserving our land and sea for future generations. Myself and my brother George Tonga are involved with the Traditional Owner Reference Group (TORG) and we work with Reef Catchments. I am also a mentor/elder in the Mackay Murri Court system. We also deliver cultural awareness to Justice Groups. George and my connection to Yuwi land is through our great grandmother Molly Bargo Tonga. Our boundary goes from Midge Point to Cape Palmerston.

Contact 0478 735 304

Samarla Deshong – Koinmerburra
I have been an active member of Reef Catchments Traditional Owner Reference Group (TORG) for over ten years and am passionate about sharing my skills and knowledge with fellow Traditional Owner groups to look after our culturally significant sites and culture.

Contact 0437 439 755

Marissa Deshong – Koinmerburra
My involvement with the Traditional Owner Reference Group (TORG) has been from the beginning, when I worked for Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services. I have learnt a lot from the other Traditional Owners within this group. Our job is to look after country and the best way to do this is to work together. We share and learn culture.

Contact 0437 439 755

Carol Pryor – Ngaro
I am a direct living descendant of the Ngaro people that inhabited the Whitsunday Island and am one of the voices on the spiritual connect that is a link between us and our ancestors. I have been involved in the listening post that is erected on Hook Island, have taken an active role in works with the Environmental Protection Agency and am an active member of Reef Catchments Traditional Owner Reference Group. I am a mentor to the young ones and am involved in anything and everything regarding my county.

Contact 0413 697 072

Cathy Illin – Ngaro
I am a direct living descendant of the Ngaro people that inhabited the Whitsunday Island and am one of the voices on the spiritual connect that is a link between us and our ancestors. I have been involved in the listening post that is erected on Hook Island, have taken an active role in works with the Environmental Protection Agency and am an active member of Reef Catchments Traditional Owner Reference Group. I am a mentor to the young ones and am involved in anything and everything regarding my county.

Contact 0422 590 155

Sue West – Juru
I am a direct descendant of the Juru peoples of Bowen. I have been involved as a Juru elder with the TORG for four years. I am privileged to share my knowledge. My connection is also with the Ngaro and Gia peoples of the Whitsundays. I am involved with the schools in Proserpine, Whitsundays, Airlie Beach, and Bowen in which I share my knowledge and participate in all activities/events involving the Traditional Owners. My vision is to teach the young and to hand down my knowledge so that they can appreciate and respect the ways of our Ancestors of the Juru people.

Contact – 0409 595 777

Toni Pryor – Gia
I am a direct descendant of the Gia people, with connection to the Juru and Ngaro peoples on my father’s side. My mother’s side, I have bloodline connection to both the Juru (Bowen, NQ) and Kunggandji peoples (Yarrabah, NQ). My involvement is only recent with the Traditional Owner Reference Group, though I am very passionate to learn as much about my country in as far as protecting and preserving our traditional customs, language (where possible) and lore and enhancing my knowledge of cultural sites and boundaries that our ancestors respected and valued. Our future generation, who will one day be our ‘future elders’, will be able to hand this knowledge down to their children so that our history will remain with us.

Contact – 0476 007 535

Arthur Kennedy – Wiri
I’ve been involved in Cultural Heritage since 1998 working on numerous projects from the Upper Burdekin Task force to the Hail Creek Infrastructure as an employee of the Wiri Aboriginal Corporation. I am very passionate about Caring for Country projects as a direct descendant from Saltbush George and Maggie Barker and I feel that management plans are needed in place for future generations.

Contact – 0473 353 268

Sam Dallachy – Barada

My name is Samuel Dallachy and I am a descendant of the Barada/Wiri tribes. I am a senior Cultural Heritage officer which gives me a voice for our group and how our cultural sites are managed and looked after. The TORG is a great opportunity to be involved in the implementation and management of our cultural and environmental resources.

Contact – 0497 832 504

Cultural Heritage Assessments in the Mackay Whitsunday Isaac region
The TORG, in collaboration with the Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership engaged Terra Rosa to facilitate the development of indigenous cultural heritage for inclusion into the 2015 Healthy Rivers to Reef Report Card. Over the course of a week the TORG, Terra Rosa and Reef Catchments/HR2RP staff undertook site assessments in the St Helens zone, Cape Hillsborough zone and Whitsunday, Hook and South Molle Islands zones. In total, 21 sites were assessed across the three zones and included shell middens, rock shelters, fish traps, quarries and paintings. Download the 2015 Report Card or visit the Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership.

 

Video – Tapping into traditional knowledge to help protect the GBR

Key Contact

StefanieWabnik
Stefanie Wabnik
Position Coordinator Coasts and Biodiversity
Phone(07) 4968 4225
Mobile 0409 677 117
E-Mail: Stefanie Wabnik