Cherbourg, Queensland

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Cherbourg is located in Queensland
Coordinates 26°17′S 151°57′E / 26.283°S 151.950°E / -26.283; 151.950Coordinates: 26°17′S 151°57′E / 26.283°S 151.950°E / -26.283; 151.950
Population 1,128 (2006 census)[1]
Established 1900
Postcode(s) 4605
Location 6 km (4 mi) E of Murgon
LGA(s) Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council
State electorate(s) Callide
Federal Division(s) Wide Bay
Localities around Cherbourg:
Ficks Crossing Murgon Murgon
Wondai Cherbourg Murgon
Wondai Charlestown Moffatdale

Cherbourg (/ˈʃɜːrbɜːrɡ/, locally [ˈʃɜːbɜːɡ])[2] is a town and locality in the Aboriginal Shire of Cherbourg in Queensland, Australia.[3][4] At the 2006 census, Cherbourg had a population of 1,128.[1]


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 very close to the dam wall of Bjelke-Petersen Dam. Attractions in Cherbourg include the 'Bert Button Lookout' and 'Emu Farm Tours'.

The town, formerly known as Barambah, was founded as a settlement for Aborigines in the early 1900s under a policy of segregation being pursued by the Government of Queensland. Its history has been described in at least two books, Dumping Ground by Thom Blake and Is That You Ruthie? by Ruth Hegarty.


The town takes its name from the original 1840s pastoral run, the name of which is thought to be a corruption of "Chirbury", the town in Shropshire, England, which was the birthplace of pastoralist Richard Jones, the lessee of the run in the 1850's.[3][4]

In 1900, the Salvation Army negotiated for the establishment of the Barambah Aboriginal Reserve, which was gazetted over 7,000 acres (2,800 ha) on 23 February 1901.[5] It was initially populated with a few local Aborigines, but others from the Esk region were soon sent to the reserve. Many were forcibly removed from their homes and "settled" at Barambah which was later renamed 'Cherbourg'. Sometimes they were sent there as punishment for refusing to work. People from 109 different areas[6] were mixed together and they were not allowed to speak their own languages.

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. On 8 December 1931 the settlement was renamed Cherbourg.[5] From 1905 until 1939, in total 1587 Indigenous people were removed to the settlement from all across the state.[7]

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.

Cherbourg Post Office opened on 15 November 1965 and closed in 1986.[8]

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.


Over the years, the policies towards Aboriginals 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.[5] 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.[9] Mayor Sam Murray claims the restrictions are not being enforced and the problem is being pushed underground.[9] Early reports indicate that the bans have not reduced violent assaults in the town which are occurring 30 times more than the Queensland average.[10]


Cherbourg has a population of around 1241 persons, making it Queensland's third largest Aboriginal community.[5] The town's main tribal groups are the 'Wakka Wakka' people and the 'gubbi gubbi' people [11] In 2006, median individual income for residents of Cherbourg was $227 per week, less than half the national median.[12] 98.8% of housing in the town is stand-alone houses.[12]


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.[citation needed] 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.[12]


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.[13]

Notable former residents[edit]


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Cherbourg (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 3 May 2011. 
  2. ^ Macquarie Dictionary, Fourth Edition (2005). Melbourne, The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd. ISBN 1-876429-14-3
  3. ^ a b "Cherbourg - town in Aboriginal Shire of Cherbourg (entry 6986)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 21 July 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "Cherbourg - locality in the Aboriginal Shire of Cherbourg (entry 44517)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 21 July 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships: Cherbourg community". The State of Queensland. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  6. ^ Evans, Raymond (2007). A History of Queensland. Port Melbourne, Victoria: Cambridge University Press. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-521-87692-6. 
  7. ^ Blake, (2001), pp 34-5
  8. ^ Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Emma Pollard (7 July 2009). "Cherbourg alcohol bans 'failing'". ABC News Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 
  10. ^ Stephanie Smail (23 July 2009). "Cherbourg violence remains 'high'". ABC News Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 
  11. ^ "Cherbourg". Community Histories. Queensland Government. 8 April 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  12. ^ a b c Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Cherbourg (S) (Local Government Area)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  13. ^ "Nurunderi". TAFE Queensland South West. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  14. ^ Connolly, Paul. "The forgotten story of … Frank Fisher". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 February 2016. 


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