Toobeah Reserve Information

aerial view of Toobeah and part of Toobeah Reserve

The future of the Toobeah Reserve is a state-led process and decision, not Council’s. 

In January 2024, Council requested the Queensland Government permit Council to share our position with the public openly.  This request was approved.  

Council provides the following Frequently Asked Questions and copies of documents (scroll to bottom of page) regarding the future of Toobeah Reserve.

The Toobeah Reserve is owned by the State and Council was appointed Trustee in October 1906.

Since 1906, the purpose of the Toobeah Reserve is for camping and watering in relation to travelling stock only. Members of the public do not currently have lawful access for recreational activities, such as swimming, fishing or motorbike riding on the Reserve.

Map of current Lot 1 Reserve area

There has been an Expression of Interest made to the Queensland Government Department of Resources by the native title holders of the land, the Bigambul People recognised by the Federal Court in 2016, for Lot 1 of the Toobeah Reserve to be transferred to them as Aboriginal freehold under the Aboriginal Land Act 1991.

The nearby Lot 10 Reserve, over which native title has also been recognised, has more recently been added by the Queensland Government to the Expression of Interest for Aboriginal freehold to compensate for the carving out of the stock route in Lot 1.

The Queensland Government requested Council confidentially express their views on the proposal to grant Aboriginal  freehold over Lot 1 and 10.  

Further Information about Land Transfers under the Aboriginal Land Act can be found here on the Queensland Government Department of Resources website- https://www.qld.gov.au/firstnations/environment-land-use-native-title/connecting-with-country/land-transfers

View Toobeah Reserve Map for Consideration

At the January 2024 Ordinary Meeting, focused on securing a favourable outcome for Toobeah and broader community, Council confirmed the following current views as our response to the State:

  • Easement access to be guaranteed to Council for essential town water infrastructure;
  • Suitable alternate to be confirmed for retaining the stock route network;
  • Queensland government land, suitable for new residential lots, be transferred to Council as freehold to provide future growth opportunities for Toobeah; and
  • The State to undertake public consultation with the community.

Council has not relinquished its Trusteeship of the Toobeah Reserve at this point.

The future of the Toobeah Reserve is a state-led process and decision, not Council’s. 

The process is regulated by the Aboriginal Land Act 1991.   Before deciding whether to grant land as Aboriginal freehold, the Minister is required to notify and invite representations from Aboriginal persons particularly concerned with land. 

The legislation does not require the Minister to undertake broader community consultation. 

The Queensland Government first received notification of Bigambul’s request for Lot 1 to be made available for an Aboriginal Freehold grant in October 2021.  In its written correspondence the Queensland Government advised Council that the EOI process was confidential and could not be disclosed outside of Council. Council was therefore unable to disclose the application details or undertake public consultation.

The Queensland Department of Resources Toobeah Reserve Q&A information sheet, shared at the 12th February meeting hosted by the Department, confirms in writing the confidentiality requirements that Council followed – https://www.grc.qld.gov.au/downloads/file/3352/qld-dept-resources-toobeah-reserve-qas-2024-03-06-final  

Council has actively advocated to the Queensland Government that this process has taken too long and that the community must be consulted.

In January 2024, Council requested the Queensland Government permit Council to share our position with the public openly.  This request was approved.

From this time, Council has made public correspondence about this matter to assist the community in understanding the facts see link – https://www.grc.qld.gov.au/homepage/137/toobeah-reserve-information 

Council’s January 2024 Ordinary Meeting was open to the public, and the meeting reports and minutes are available online.

A media release regarding Toobeah Reserve was distributed by Council on Saturday, 10 February 2024.

Council coordinated and hosted a public meeting in Toobeah on Monday, 12 February 2024.

Use or development of Aboriginal freehold is subject to the laws of the State and Commonwealth. Any development is therefore required to comply with building, planning and other development laws and appropriate approvals sought where required.

The Bigambul Native Title Aboriginal Corporation presented at the recent community meetings in Toobeah that they intend to use the site for the following purposes:

  • Land restoration
  • Education
  • Cultural Heritage Management
  • Eco-Tourism

The current purpose of the Toobeah Reserve is for camping and watering in relation to travelling stock only.  Members of the public do not currently have lawful access for recreational activities, such as swimming, fishing or motorbike riding on the Reserve.

The Bigambul Native Title Aboriginal Corporation indicated at a recent public meeting in Toobeah that they are open to collaborating on shared use guidelines.

There are currently no other Aboriginal Land Act claims within Council’s local government area to Council’s knowledge.

In 2016, the Federal Court of Australia determined that the Bigambul People have native title rights and interests in land within four local government areas, including the Goondiwindi Regional Council area.

The Bigambul determination in 2016 recognised native title exists in a number of Crown land (Queensland government controlled land) areas, including reserves that Council is Trustee of, and most pastoral leases.

The native title holder must demonstrate a significant cultural connection to the land.  In making the decision the Minister will also take into consideration the existing use of the land, existing infrastructure on site, and current extent of use on the site. 

If an application for Aboriginal land tenure was made over other reserves the Minister would need to consider the approved purpose and strategic importance to the community. For example, the area known as the Goondiwindi Town Common is legally designated for community (Open Spaces) purpose, meaning fishing, swimming, and other recreational activities are permitted, and the site is actively used by the community throughout the year. 

The Toobeah Reserve is not a community purpose reserve.  It’s purpose since 1906 is camping and watering for the movement of travelling stock only.

Council has actively advocated to the Queensland Government that this process has taken too long and that the community must be consulted. 

The law that underpins this process was made by the Queensland Parliament many years ago, and councils have no influence over it.

No.

This is not a Council process, it is a state-led process.  Council can provide comments, but ultimately it is a matter for the Minister.

Under the Aboriginal Land Act 1991, the native title holders of the land are lawfully entitled to apply for Aboriginal freehold. The Minister is required to consider the request and make a decision.

Council was asked to provide its comments on the Expression of Interest application.  Council requested public consultation to occur and also advised the Queensland Government that any proposal to grant Aboriginal freehold should be subject to ensuring there is security of critical town water infrastructure, a suitable alternate stock route site, and freehold residential Toobeah land granted to Council to support town growth. 

Council has not relinquished its Trusteeship of the Toobeah Reserve at this point.

The Queensland Government will now consider Council’s views and has indicated that they are undertaking additional discussions and consultation. 

The Queensland government has indicated they are available for further discussions and updates with small local groups – contact email ODDG.LANDS@resources.qld.gov.au

Council anticipates further opportunity to input into the process, particularly if our requests are not met.

Quality consultation will inform Council’s final recommendation to the Minister.

The Minister is entitled to make a decision, regardless of Council’s position in this matter. 

Page 11 of the presentation by the Department of Resources provides an overview of the Department's process, click here

There has been no proposal by Council or Bigambul Native Title Aboriginal Corporation to build social housing in Toobeah.

Social or affordable housing funding requires the applicant to demonstrate reasonable access to appropriate services and support.  Council’s view is that Toobeah township would not meet these requirements, and that Toobeah is not a suitable location for social housing.

Any development of Aboriginal freehold land will be subject to Council’s Planning Scheme and building code.

Due to the Local Government Election on 16 March 2024 and caretaker provisions, Council's capacity to make public statements has been limited.

Council’s January 2024 Ordinary Meeting was open to the public, and the meeting reports and minutes are available online.

A media release regarding Toobeah Reserve was distributed by Council on Saturday, 10 February 2024.

Council coordinated and hosted a public meeting in Toobeah on Monday, 12 February 2024.

Council attended the Queensland Government consultation in Toobeah on Monday, 4 March 2024.

As the current Trustee of the Reserve, with essential Council town water infrastructure on the site, the Queensland Government requested the views of Council in relation to the proposal to grant of Aboriginal freehold.

The future of the Toobeah Reserve is a state-led process and decision, not Council’s.  The process is regulated under the Aboriginal Land Act 1991.   There is no requirement under the legislation for the Queensland government to undertake broader community consultation.

The Minister is entitled to make a decision, regardless of Council’s position in this matter. 

Lot 1 and Lot 10 does not include any of the following:

  • Toobeah Coronation Hotel
  • The site where the Toobeah Rodeo/ Campdraft is held
  • Toobeah Showgrounds site
  • Toobeah Kindergarten building/ grounds
  • Existing freehold houses in Toobeah

Council’s response to the State is focused on securing access to the essential town water infrastructure on the Toobeah Reserve, a suitable alternate stock route being confirmed, as well as identifying appropriate land to convert to freehold for town expansion.

In 2016, the Federal Court of Australia determined that the Bigambul People have native title rights and interests in land within four local government areas, including the Goondiwindi Regional Council area.

Details of the native title determination are publicly available on the Commonwealth Court website – Native Title Determination Details (nntt.gov.au)

There are currently no other Aboriginal Land Act claims within Council’s local government area to Council’s knowledge.

No.

They remain subject to Commonwealth, State and Local Government laws, including compliance with the Local Government Planning Scheme and the required Development Applications, as with any other private landowner.

Within Lot 1 of the Toobeah Reserve, Council has identified land suitable for the grant of freehold for residential expansion of the Toobeah township, benefitting local businesses, the agriculture sector and the broader community.  There are also other lots, not subject to the current application for Aboriginal freehold, that could be suitable for this purpose, that Council has raised with the Queensland Government. 

Native title has been recognised over the identified lots. Freehold can only be granted where native title no longer exists. Therefore it would be necessary to extinguish native title before any freehold transfer to Council. This will require the agreement of the Bigambul People as the native title holders and the State.

If the lots are made available to Council in freehold, Council will negotiate a purchase price with the State.  Council would then determine the most appropriate way to release the lots to the open market.

Bigambul Native Title Aboriginal Corporation has an office in the Goondiwindi main street.

The Federal Court determined Bigambul People native title area covers four local government areas.  The Bigambul Native Title Aboriginal Corporation has officers based both remotely and on-site delivering services.

The Queensland Government coordinated consultation in Toobeah on Monday 4 March 2024.

You can find an FAQ information sheet from the Queensland Government here –– https://www.grc.qld.gov.au/downloads/file/3352/qld-dept-resources-toobeah-reserve-qas-2024-03-06-final  

Correspondence post January 2024 (the date confidentiality was waived by the Queensland Government) is available below.

As Trustee, Council could apply to the same Minister for a change of reserve purpose, however:

  • the Minister must still consider the current Expression of Interest for the site to be transferred to Aboriginal freehold; and
  • Native title exists on the site.  Therefore any application will need to address native title, and the required process under the Native Title Act 1993 would need to be followed, including consulting with the native title holders and addressing cultural heritage and environmental requirements. Addressing native title can be a complex, time consuming and costly process.

Council’s previous experience with an application to change the purpose of use for a reserve to community purposes was not viewed favourably by the State, and Council subsequently withdrew the application.

The process for applying for land holdings, whether by Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal people and including the granting of  Aboriginal freehold is determined by applicable Queensland legislation. Council is also required to comply with Privacy Laws.

Each request is considered case by case. For example an initial enquiry regarding potential Aboriginal trusteeship transfer in 2020 was openly considered at a Council meeting, with the agenda and minutes recorded on Council’s website. Members of the public were welcome to attend the Ordinary Council meeting.

Toobeah Reserve Documents