First Australians' land rights in the Northern Territory

When Captain Cook claimed eastern Australia for the King of Great Britain in 1770, it was not acknowledged that the land had already been inhabited by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for tens of thousands of years. 

When Captain Cook claimed eastern Australia for the King of Great Britain in 1770, it was not acknowledged that the land had already been inhabited by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for tens of thousands of years.

In 1975, over 2 centuries later, the Gurindji people of the Northern Territory became the first Aboriginal people to be granted leasehold title to their own native lands.

The High Court of Australia, in the 1992 Mabo decision, overturned the idea that the land of Australia was terra nullius ('land belonging to no-one') when the British claimed sovereignty.

Curriculum areas

  • Year 10 History
  • Year 11 History
  • Year 12 History

Questions

  • What were some of the obstacles faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples campaigning for land rights?
  • What were the methods used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander activists in achieving land rights?
  • What did the gaining of land rights mean for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?

Records