Save Deebing Creek Mission
Updated: Jan 15, 2020
Traditional owner Faye Thompson-Carr lived on the reserve in the old mission house with her family as a child in the 1950s and said it was a very sacred place.
"That's why we've got to keep doing what we're doing and we know we'll probably lose but we've got to have a go," she said.
"This means everything to us, this is all we've got left so we need to try and keep it. Our ancestors are here, you can feel it in the lovely breeze. They're always with us.”
Aboriginal elders of the Yuggera Ugarapul community are leading protests to preserve Deebing Creek mission, a traditional sacred site, from property developers’ corporate interests. Communities have been camping on the site for several weeks.
Frasers Property have said they will not be developing on protected areas, however there are legitimate concerns that a mere 30 metre buffer-zone (around the cemetary) will disturb the burial site. There will also inevitably be lasting impacts on the cultural & spiritual essence of the site.
As usual, police have been used as the right arm of corporate interests - resulting in the forced dismantling of the protest camp, with several elders arrested. Police were visibly armed and employed the use of pepper spray on non-violent protesters.
Community is calling on COMMUNITY to help defend & protect their lands, people and culture. Anyone near or around the Ipswich/SE QLD area is needed.
Pls remember that ALL struggle is linked. If you care about privileged environmentalism, mainstream feminism, exclusive bo-po movements, white LGBTIQ+ visibility, or DKLM, pls remember that colonialist capitalism is the beating heart of what is affecting you as well. Pls remember there are less mobile communities that need you to put your weight behind them too. Back First Nations issues as hard as you back the ones that affect you.
The Deebing Creek mission operated between 1887 and 1915 as a place of residence and work for missionaries and Aboriginal people from Ipswich and other parts of QLD.
The reserve was later used for farming & grazing purposes when the mission was moved to nearby Purga.
Deebing Creek mission is a burial site, housing a heritage-listed Aboriginal cemetary.
It is also a site of a colonial massacre where a group of schoolchildren and their teacher were shot & killed. Records show a school was established at the mission by 1895 and lists the names of 25 children.
The story has been handed down by Aboriginal elders for decades.
In 2016 radar site surveys discovered what appears to be a mass grave beneath a single tombstone, marked for Julia Ford (died 1896) who was believed to have been the schoolteacher who tried to stop the killings.
"My brothers use to hear little ones, babies crying, and none of us were young. You know mum would try and tell us not to be scared."
Yuggera Ugarapul elders want the gov to buy back the land from developers so they can be traditional caretakers; however a QLD gov spokesperson has said "The Queensland Government owns and maintains the Deebing Creek Cemetery site which will not be impacted by the development. There will also be no housing development on sites that are listed on the Queensland Heritage Register… There are no plans at this time for the Government to acquire any additional land in this area.”
Radar uncovers suspected mass grave at massacre site
“RADAR site surveys appear to have uncovered one of the darkest episodes in Ipswich's history.
The story of a massacre at Deebing Creek in colonial times has been passed down through generations of the local Aboriginal tribes.”
Deebing Creek mission protest to halt housing development gathers momentum
“Traditional owner Karen Coghill is among a group of Yuggera Ugarapul people who have begun camping on the site in an effort to stop trucks from entering the area.
"We're talking about lands and it's serious — it's livelihoods, it's connection, it's not just an economical venture — this is personal," she said.”
Frasers Property website
Cover image: 'Remember Us.' by Charlotte Allingham