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Attempted closure of top of Cape York has decimated northern tourism

Local News

by Jim O’Toole

Tourists intending to visit the top of Cape York for the Easter holidays have been turned back by a fake news campaign emanating from the Cairns Post newspaper claiming the Tip is closed.

An islander from Bamaga, Michael Solomon, acting largely on his own according to Injinoo sources, has duped the newspaper into supporting his agenda of closing the Tip to garner state government funds to develop one of the Aboriginal freehold titles he was handed by the Department of Natural Resources in 2019.

Nearby Punsand Bay Resort owner and operator Rod Colquhoun has called out Mr Solomon for disrupting tourism and causing considerable economic loss on Cape York Peninsula including Mr Solomon’s community of Bamaga.

The closure of the Tip of Cape York has had significant economic consequences for Punsand Bay Resort, other camping grounds and communities across the Peninsula.

Mr Colquhoun said there had been hundreds of cancellations by tourists who had booked in at his camping ground and others across the Peninsula since the fake news was published.

“I ask Mr Solomon what right he has to speak for Pajinka when I have been reliably advised his grandfather is from St Pauls community of Pacific Islanders on Moa Island,” Mr Colquhoun said.

“Can he produce a certified copy of his genealogy?

“Every year I make major contributions and give my time to the local communities for school competitions, sporting events, rodeo and show.”

After determining his losses Mr Colquhoun said he would be seeking legal advice.

Cairnsnews has discovered Mr Solomon is a member of the Gudang Yadhaykenu Aboriginal Corporation which holds the Deed of Grant. This corporation is not recognised by the federal government and does not represent the traditional owners of Pajinka. A search of the Native Title register revealed the Impima Ikaya Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC (Registered Native Title Body Corporate) at Injinoo is the real native title holder of Pajinka.

The Ipima Ikaya PBC should clarify their qualifications for membership as Mr Solomon is unable to be a member of the Impima Ikaya under the Native Title Act.

Injinoo Native Title holders have said generally they do not support Mr Solomon.

The three Pajinka Aboriginal Freehold titles are held as Deed of Grant of Land under the Land Act 1994 and cannot ever be sold or leased for more than 30 years.

The boundaries of the Pajinka land can easily be identified by this map which clearly defines the gazetted road that finishes at the Pajinka land northern boundary in the car park at the base of the Tip. Mr Solomon cannot legally close this council controlled road.

An examination of the aerial map(above) with the Aboriginal Freehold title boundaries marked in yellow clearly shows a gazetted road (Pajinka Rd) bisecting the three titles heading to the north ending at the base of the Tip. This road comes under the control of Torres Strait Regional Council.

The Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council based at Bamaga controls this road on behalf of the TSRC south to where it joins the NPARC boundary where the council then assumes total control of the road.

It should be noted the 50 acres or more at the actual Tip of Cape York is not legally controlled by Mr Solomon. Nor is the foreshore esplanade which is controlled by the Commonwealth Government. This can be clearly seen on the map.

Mr Solomon cannot legally prevent any visitors from going to the Tip by road or sea.  Cairns News has been informed the “You are standing at the Top of Australia” sign has been removed.

The collective media has been bluffed and has not done any due diligence instead accepting the untruthful story spun by Mr Solomon and is not at all concerned about the economic and cultural consequences of its blunder.

Traditional owners from other areas of the Peninsula have warned there is a deeper agenda in place with the attempted closure of the Tip of Cape York. They are suggesting the long-term plan is to totally close down Cape York Peninsula to visitors and create an independent Aboriginal State.

Hence the ongoing Cape York Land Council Number 1 claim which seeks to tie up all unallocated land and land not already subject to native title claim across the entire Peninsula approximately north from the 16 th Parallel.

According to extensive mining exploration surveys in recent years, Cape York Peninsula has some of the largest and most valuable mineral deposits in Australia and is ripe for development, however the State reserves the right to minerals and petroleum.

Existing mining operations on the Peninsula already pay royalties to native title holders, separate to government royalties.

The Cape York Land Council has its finger prints over this latest partial closure and some TO’s believe Mr Solomon has been projected as a forward scout to take the flak. Sources said he had been in Cairns recently and no doubt he would have met with the land council.