is the largest township north of Jardine River.
Being the largest community, it is the adminstrative centre of NPA.
As opposed to the neighbouring Injinoo
and Umagico, it is not
Aboriginal, but a Torres
Strait islander community.
And not only that - it is a community of Saibai islanders -
right from the northernmost Torres Strait.
Like all the communities up here, there is not much especially for
travellers. But I don't think there has to be.
Just stopping and
some time in the
Australia's largest islander community is interesting
enough if it's your first time experience.
mostly the practical
reasons like the supermarket, but at
a closer look there are also some things to see.
Particularly monuments - if you
are a keen plaque reader, there is some interesting things to read, and
it helps to know a bit of the local history.
The whole area north of Jardine River used to be Aboriginal land
divided between five semi nomadic tribes that at one stage settled where
Injinoo is today. The whole area was the land of Injinoo people,
including what was called Ichuru
- the place where Bamaga is today.
World War History
came the Second World War. Australia was the next Japanese target after
PNG, and northern Australia obviously was the first front, with
northern Cape York peninsula being a busy war zone. Today
are many different relics and monuments.
Ichuru was still Injinoo land, even after the WWII. It was about five
years after the end of the war as Saibai islanders got flooding and
freshwater problems back home, and the Injinoo Aboriginal people kindly
let them move in. That started Bamaga and Seisia.
The whole NPA (Northern Peninsula
Area) used to be Aboriginal land divided between five semi
nomadic tribes - Atambaya,
Anggamuthi, Yadaigana, Gudang and Wuthathi. The tribes fought a fair
bit, but at one stage a group of people from different tribes came to
peace and decided
to settle where Injinoo
The whole area was the land of
Injinoo people before, during and after the WWII,
including Ichuru -
the place where Bamaga is today.
Then came the Second World
War. The First World War didn't reach Australia,
over in Europe. But the WWII did come to Australia, which was the next
Japanese target after PNG. Northern Australia obviously was the first
front, particularly the Top End of Northern Territory and Cape York
Island was the second most bombed base after Darwin, so the tip of Cape
York peninsula was a busy battle field. Today there are many air plane wrecks
around the town, along with fuel dumps and other remnants.
Just like Horn
Bamaga also got its air
strip during the war, which today still is an airport.
At the airport, there is also
a monument for Jackey
Jackey - the Aboriginal friend of Edmund Kennedy and the
only survivor of the Kennedy expedition, after whom the airfield was
is another monument
for a small passenger
plane that in May 2005 left this airport for Cairns, but crashed
south of Papua New Guinea, Saibai
Island is an Australian island, just like all other Torres
It may look fairly big on the map but is largely uninhabitable beacuse
of lots of swamplands and flooded areas.
After the WWII some particularly
coinsided with Saibai soldiers returning from the war, telling the
locals that there may be a solution if they move to the tip of
The Saibai leader, Bamaga Ginau, made
the decision after a meeting to relocate to the mainland for the safety
of their future generations.
In 1946, two luggers were bought, to take the leader and a few families of first settlers
to the tip of Cape York.
After asking permission from Injinoo people, they first settled at
Mutee Head, while better places were found and built.
In 1949, just after they found Bamaga, the leader Bamaga Ginau became sick
and was taken to Thursday
Island hospital, where he passed away.
I don't have to mention how the township got its name!
As the housing was
gradually built most families moved slowly from Mutee
Head to Bamaga.
In 1954 most housing was
completed and more people also arrived from Saibai Island.
Today, with a population
of about 800, it is the largest of all the communities in
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