Broome's Heritage and Yawuru Native Title Holders

Broome and its surrounds has some of the oldest patterns of immigration in the nation.  Over many years, successive waves of economic migrants have been attracted to the marine and land-based resources in the region for their livelihoods.  Livestock, pearls, seafood, agriculture and minerals, along with oil and gas, have been the source of most activity in the region (Broome Growth Plan 2015).

Many families of Broome have diverse, interconnected roots founded in many cultural groups, including Yawuru and other Aboriginal Australians, as well as settler Australians such as Chinese, Japanese, Sri Lankans, Filipinos, Malay, Roumah, Koepangers and Ambonese (Broome Growth Plan 2015).

Aboriginal Australians

The Yawuru Native Title holders and other Aboriginal residents of the Broome area are a significant component of the population of the Shire of Broome.  Their native title interests and cultural connections are spread throughout the Shire of Broome (Broome Growth Plan 2015).

A total of 84 Aboriginal communities are located within the Shire of Broome, of which 78 as classified as remote.  Strong traditional ties to land have created a significant range of native title claims and determinations within the Shire, including :

  • Bardi Jawi

  • Karajarri A and B

  • Nyikina

  • Ngurrara

  • Nyangumarta

  • Rubibi (Yawuru).

Native title determinations still to be decided include:

  • Bindunbur

  • Goolarabooloo

  • Jabirr Jabirr

  • Mangalaand Yi-Martuwarra Ngurrara

  • Nyul-Nyul (Broome Growth Plan 2015).

The Yawuru people are the Native Title holders for the townsite of Broome.  For thousands of years Yawuru people have lived along the foreshores of Roebuck Bay, across the pindan plains, as far inland as the Walan-garr (Edgar Ranges) and along the fringes of the Great Sandy Desert. Yawuru country is land and sea moulded by the cycle of seasonal change. It is a living cultural landscape with which Yawuru people have a dynamic and enduring relationship (Joint Management Plan for the Yawuru Minyirr Buru Conservation Estate).

On 28 April 2006, the Federal Court determined that the Yawuru people are the recognised native title holders of the lands and waters in and around Broome. In February 2010, the Yawuru RNTBC, the Government of Western Australia, the Shire and other relevant parties signed two ILUAs – the Yawuru Prescribed Body Corporate Indigenous Land Use Agreement and the Yawuru Area Agreement Indigenous Land Use Agreement.  An ILUA is an agreement under the Native Title Act between a native title group and others about the use and management of land and waters.  These ILUAs resolved compensation issues and clarified that native title continued to exist for the Yawuru people.  The ILUAs provide for the establishment and joint management of the Yawuru Conservation Estate by Yawuru, the Shire of Broome and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (Joint Management Plan for the Yawuru Minyirr Buru Conservation Estate).

More information on native title, the Yawuru people’s journey for native title determination and the ILUAs can be found on the website for the National Native Title Tribunal (National Native Title Tribunal 2010c), on the Yawuru website ( and in the Yawuru Cultural Management Plan (Joint Management Plan for the Yawuru Minyirr Buru Conservation Estate).

Candy Roberts