Island war as clan clashes

Bunda Family elder Jason Brown and Cultural and Heritage trainer John Water united in their drive to get the name of Paddy’s Island changed.
Bunda Family elder Jason Brown and Cultural and Heritage trainer John Water united in their drive to get the name of Paddy’s Island changed. Max Fleet

A DISPUTE over who controls Paddy's Island in the Burnett River is threatening to split one of Bundaberg's leading indigenous clans.

The man in possession is Jason Brown, who said this week he planned to apply to change the name of the island to Alcarrra, which he says means “Where the old ones dwell”.

Mr Brown says he is an elected elder of the Bunda family group of the Darrriebullum nation, and was appointed a spokesman for the group before “the old people died”.

He lives in a brick home on the island, protected by locked gates and several signs warning away intruders with the threat of Supreme Court action.

But family spokesman Dean Sarra said Mr Brown had no right to speak for them or to try to change the island's name.

And he said there was no such thing as the Darrriebullum nation.

Mr Sarra said the future of the island had to be put to the Bunda people and decided collectively.

“He definitely does not have the authority to speak for our family as he insists,” he said.

“He has very little respect in the Aboriginal community.”

Mr Brown insists he was nominated as a spokesman to run the business of the Bunda.

He says the island was the scene of a notorious massacre of Aborigines in the 19th century, and was a place of birthing and worship for the clan.

He also says he has the deeds to the island after it was bought from a local farmer in 1995.

Mr Sarra said the deeds were held by the Taribelang Land Corporation, which is now deregistered.

But a meeting of the Bunda people to be held in Bundaberg at the QRI Hall on September 4 would set a new direction.

Mr Sarra said the Bunda people planned to open the island as a recreational and fishing spot for the whole community.

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