Gubbi Gubbi
Traditional Owners from the Dawn of Time
An authentic view of the Gubbi Gubbi people of Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay and Burnett Mary Regions.

 This website has been developed to support the Gubbi Gubbi Traditional Owners. 

Eddie Mabo achieved a significant victory for all Australians when he succeeded in establishing Native Title. Original Australians were able to reclaim their lands based on traditional ownership and custodianship. Family groups, with proven associations, were given native Title by the Federal Court -those that could not prove their attachment were not. 

The Gubbi Gubbi people, under the guidance of Senior Elder, Dr Eve Fesl OAM CM, PhD were awarded their rights by the Federal Court. This web site supports the decision of the Federal Court as being impartial and fair.

Unfortunately it was soon realised that by supporting this decision of the Federal Court meant threatening emails with dark claims were received. This was at the time of the Canberra riots against the leader of a political party. It is clear there are a number of Indigenous people who do not accept that decision and deceive people into believing they have claims to native Title and Traditional Ownership when they have not been able to prove these claims in the Federal Court. Their origins are to the North and it appears the motivation is financial (grants and land). Their knowledge of Gubbi Gubbi Culture and Heritage is weak and based on romanticised stories. And yet, as welcome visitors to these Gubbi Gubbi traditional lands, a far more effective understanding of Indigenous culture might be understood by the broader communityand end the confusion they bring to an orderly Federal Court process.

The Federal Court decision provides Traditional Owners with certain rights under Queensland's Culture and Heritage laws.

Organisations, such as the Sunshine Coast Regional Council (SCRC) and the Regional ABC Radio, appear to have no understanding of the rights of the Traditional Owners and allow the views of non traditional people to be accepted as authorities. The SCRC Reconciliation Action Report is an example of this lack of understanding and inclusion. The ABC uses a young woman to discuss the Gubbi Gubbi language when the young lady herself professes she is only learning and uses non relevant examples. The great pity is the SCRC and the ABC do not refer to the real Traditional Owners and, as a result, perpetuate inaccurate information.

The pity of this is that fictional stories become accepted as facts and are propagated through hearsay and adoption by sites, who many might accept as authorities, then leading to myths instead or real history of true history. 

The Gubbi Gubbi Traditional Owners deserve better. 

This site supports a united Indigenous Community and believes this should be achieved under the guidance of the Gubbi Gubbi Traditional Owners who welcome all Indigenous people to their lands and the contribution they can make to the Community. In this way traditional land can be protected (unlike those who accepted $3million for the Traveston Dam against the communities wishes) and a financial plan for a sustainable future can be set out rather than individual grabs for government grants.


Welcome Everybody
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A major problem facing Traditional Owners centres around the activities of a few “historical” Aborigines whose activities disenfranchise the rights as traditional owners. Many non-indigenous are unable to recognize these people who “trick” them into giving them status (and often money).
Most indigenous people are proud of their heritage and will very quickly advise of that heritage. Others, for a variety of reasons, might not reveal, or know, their true lineage or even choose not to reveal it. So it is important to understand the difference between traditional and historical claims.

Descriptions such as “Sunshine Coast Elder” or other non clear description does not mean that that person has any traditional rights on Gubbi Gubbi land or understand or have knowledge of traditional laws, customs and languages. Living in the culture is inherited from Gubbi Gubbi Elders.

To clarify the distinction between traditional and historical David Edelman, Senior Research Officer said in a paper delivered to an Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) Native Title Conference, Melbourne 4 June 2009 which was held to specifically address the confusion and problems caused by historical residents who claim to be traditional owners. The conclusion noted at the Conference was:

 “Further According to David Martin, the ‘traditional’ people of a particular region ... are recognised as members of the ‘tribal’ groups whose lands lie within the region; that is, they are accepted as belonging to one of the relevant ‘families’, primarily though socially validated genealogical connections. They are the ones who can legitimately ‘talk for country’, and thus should be consulted about its use. The ‘historical’ people include those who are living in a particular area now, but who are from elsewhere in this region, and those who have moved here from outside the region entirely ...

“Historical people”, in other words, ‘are living where they are because of historical factors such as migration and deportation, ... usually assert themselves to be ‘traditional owners’ of country elsewhere, and assert only contingent rights in the country of current residence’. The native title process highlights this distinction between traditional people and historical people, as it is usually the former who lodge native title claims. Consequently, many broader native title settlement negotiations are carried out, first and foremost, with people who might generally be categorised as ‘traditional’, as opposed to ‘historical’, people.”

A historical claim does not legitimise a person to claim or represent themselves under native title. Gubbi Gubbi families have been identified on the Native Title Grant and the Gubbi Gubbi Elders are best placed to advise you of any claimant’s status. Acceptance of non Gubbi Gubbi people may well divert our historical understanding and lead to confusion.  Understanding Traditional Ownership and Native Title should put a stop to money and land grabs and other unsavoury activities.


The phonological (sound) system of the Gubbi Gubbi language contains consonants that do not occur in English.

To illustrate this the letter K is a voiceless consonant, a burst of air perhaps. Whereas the letter “G” is a voiced consonant from deep in the body. The Gubbi Gubbi sound is between these two but written by John Matthews, who lived amongst the Gubbi Gubbi people for several years, as “k”. John Matthews is recognised as a Gubbi Gubbi authority based on his research.

In a similar fashion “g” in English may be pronounced as gesture (jay sound) or good (the explosive sound).

What does this mean? Answer: the name Kabi Kabi is pronounced as Gubbi Gubbi. Gubbi Gubbi Elders agreed, in the 1990’s to call themselves Gubbi Gubbi to more accurately reflect the pronunciation. So the terms Gubbi Gubbi and Kabi Kabi, therefore the tribes, are the same. 

Another example of pronunciation is Coolum which should be pronounced as Gorrum.

Gubbi Gubbi has a meaning of negative or no. As with many names the repetition of the word stresses the meaning. Some erroneous Kabi Kabi claims say the name means honey from the Eucalypts but this is a legend not a fact and certainly not a traditional claim. 

People who claim to be Kabi Kabi and claim Traditional or Custodian associations cannot be considered as either if they are not on the Federal Court Dyungungoo claim as stated above. Should a person, who claims falsely, to be traditional then they expose themselves and people who use their services to substantial penalties under Culture and Heritage Law. 

Statements such as "we are challenging that" or "the claim is not valid" or "it was withdrawn" and similar comments can not undermine the fact of the Dyungungoo Federal Court decision and the responsibilty of the Gubbi Gubbi to take custodianship of their land, culture, heritage and language.

The Gubbi Gubbi Traditional Owners are proud people whosa achievements in academic, sporting and medical fields are at the highest levels. Should people, especially those who describe themselves as Kabi Kabi feel they have traditional rights then all they need to do is prove their lineage.

The Gubbi Gubbi Traditional Owners are ready to be inclusive to historical Indigenous people within the Dyungungoo region for the combined good af all. Simply use the contacts on these pages to register your interest.

Please email to your thoughts and ideas.
Just Where Does Beverley Hand Belong?

Beverley proclaims, in an ABC Radio talk that she is a Kabi Kabi woman. No mention of Undumbi.

Now these Undumbi people, and its a big question as to whether they existed at all, claim their land from the Tindale maps. Now we know that Tindale's work has been notated by the SA Museum - read
The Tindale map shows Undambi land as being situated within Gubbi Gubbi Federal Court accepted Traditional Lands. In 1996 an application was made to register a claim for Native Title for:

"At Schedule A the native title claim group is described as being Penelope Bond, Sylvia Bond, Margaret Friday, Alexander Llewellyn BondBeverley Hand, Carl Buyers, Erica Simpson, Cherie Simpson, Herman Simpson, Michelle Friday and their descendants. I am satisfied that this description constitutes an objective means of verifying the identity of members of the native title claim group, by reference to named persons and their descendants, such that it can be clearly ascertained whether any particular person is in the group."

This claim was rejected by the Federal Court in 1999. As best we know no further claims have been submitted.

So is she "Kabi Kabi" or "Undambi"?

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For those who want real history and culture.

John Mathew lived amongst the Kabi Kabi people. He wrote a book "Two representative Tribes of Queensland". This represents a close look at Kabi Kabi people (pronounced Gubbi Gubbi). Here is the book, download and read (thank Google for this service). Click here for your copy to download.

Two Representative Tribes of Queensland, John Mathew

Considered by Gubbi Gubbi Elders to be the best text of Gubbi Gubbi (kabi Kabi) Culture and Language.
If you would like a copy of F J Watsons Book "Vocabularies of 4 Representative Tribes" send an email to this site.
United Synergy and "Booin Gari"
Just what can it do for Indigenous people?
Click here to see how Gubbi Gubbi Culture could be presented
Building on success.

One would think a company like United Synergies would know better. Well the answer is never that straightforward as most people have no idea how to interact with Traditional Owners, no metter how good their intentions. United Synergies has the best of intentions.

The fact is that the "Booin Gari" festival attracts a people and presents Indigenous Culture in a good light, a welcome light. United Synergies has led the way in establishing a festival the celebrates Indigenous culture. But there are issues that are easily resolved that should work to make the festival even more meaningful.

Starting with the simple:

Lyndon Davis is a Gubbi Gubbi man, in anyone's language a man of substance, a gentle man, a knowledgeable man and a man who personifies traditional Gubbi Gubbi people. We asked a question:

But just what is Lyndon doing stating Beverly Hand and Bianca Bond are traditional owners, when he knows they are not?

The answer is he did not.

Lyndon's message is a simple one, easy to understand, and that is we are all Custodians of the land on which we live. The Gubbi Gubbi are the traditional owners and custodians but all of us who now live on those ancient lands bear the responsibility of managing those lands as historical people. By advising us of this responsibility he is asking us "historical arrivals" to share the traditional ideals.

This does not suggest that any of us historical people are traditional but that we can all share this space in recognition of the traditional owners of this land, Gubbi Gubbi since the dawn of time. Thus his claim that we are all custodians does not offer Tradionality to anyone other than those recognised by the Federal Court and supported by DATSIMA.

Two errors that need correction are:

Lyndon is a fine man, but he is not an Elder. This becomes a simple matter of understanding and awareness.

A "traditional" closing ceremony cannot be conducted by a non traditional person.

But lets go a little further. Beverly Hand and her family are from north of Gubbi Gubbi land. That does not mean that, with several generations living on these lands, she has no attachment, no understanding and no rights. She has deep knowledge of the flora and fauna, is strongly attached to her indigenous history and has established a strong contribution to understanding cultural history, culture and heritage (we can debate the validity of those stories, but not her passion for them). 

Yet the debate about indigenous custodianship is inward facing, frought with tensions and difficulties. So how much better if those in the debate could find some common ground and a way to work together, manage the issues, and begin to face outward respecting each others claims and status and begin to educate all non-indigenous people of the remarkable history of all indigenous people based on authenticity. There is a rich history waiting to be told.

So then if we adopt this concept then lets use the platform United Synergies has supported by understanding:

Traditional Custodians. Simply establish a contact and ask for their guidance. The Traditional Owners offer inclusion, sharing of history of all people to  take the values of sharing and custodianship forward. The Traditional owners do not seek to ban or exclude anyone they simply seek the respect of visitors to their lands and welcome their participation.

Language: Indigenous languages are unique. They are not simple language translations, they cannot be word for word, the culture of the Gubbi Gubbi language is entirely different to English. We dont need to rewrite new interpretations, better to take the understandings we have and make sense of them, all of them and build on them. This site is carrying references to language and each book carries variations and subtleties of expression, stories of traditional ways - authentic stories from the past.. 

An example is "Booin Gari" and its meaning of "come this way". 

Two people lived amongst and documented the Gubbi Gubbi language. Their books, out of copyright, are available from this site.

1. Two Representative Tribes of Queensland by John Mathew, who lived amongst the Gubbi Gubbi for about 6 years

2. Vocabularies of four representative tribes of SE Queensland by F J Watson

Now Watson does have the phrase "come this way" and translates to "bu-'gari" You can look it up and get the pronunciation from the tables therein. 

Mathew, on the other hand has the word "come" translated to "ba'man" or "bu'gaman". "This way" translates as "yer'ri"

Mathew is the preferred authority. 

Both suggested words could be represented in English as Booin Gari. Pronunciation, words, solutions and finally understanding.

Similarities and differences. Could we add a language seminar to Booin Gari? Lets start here and have a formal discussion with interested people starting with these references and really begin to undderstand the language complexities beyond the concept of dictionaries and word translation. We can all take pride in becoming custodians of the Gubbi Gubbi language. 

Could "Booin Gari", sponsored by United Synergies become a vehicle for an even greater way forward? Can the traditional and historical people come together under such a concept? What's wrong with giving it a try?

A big opportunity, with United Synergy support, to create an even better celebration of all those who attended the land since the dawn of time.

We have established a new website for reliable understanding of Gubbi Gubbi Culture and History. It is not easy to define true history as Gubbi Gubbi history is built on anecdotal opinion rather than factual evidence.There is some evidence from those who lived, worked and interacted with the Gubbi Gubbi people and documented their living culture and language. But even these must be treated with care as they also reflect interpretation of comments.

The first topic features Gubbi Gubbi Mortuary Practises.
Important Announcement: Gubbi Gubbi The Book, designed to provide background to Gubbi Gubbi traditional culture and heritage to be used as an education aid or as a "starter for those who wish to better know the Gubbi Gubbi people. Go to Gubbi Gubbi Book page for details. The Book has been edited by a Senior Gubbi Gubbi Elder. It is in response to many queries for further information, particularly from schools.
Click on this cover for a preview of the book and content.