The tenure history in the Wik case
The areas of land over which the Wik Peoples and the Thayorre People claimed to be the holders of native title included the Holroyd River Holding and the Mitchellton Pastoral Leases. Pastoral leases had been granted over the Mitchellton land to non-Aboriginal lessees in 1915 and 1919 and in 1945 and later in 1975 over the Holroyd River Holding, under the Queensland Land Act 1910.
The first Mitchellton lease, was forfeited for non-payment of rent in 1918, the second lease was surrendered in 1921 and possession was not taken by the lessees under either lease. Since 1922 the land had been reserved for the benefit of Aboriginal people. Similarly, the first Holroyd lease was surrendered in 1973. The second lease, however, was for a term of 30 years from 1 January 1974.
None of the leases contained an express reservation in favour of Aboriginal people but, with the exception of the most recent lease, were granted for pastoral purposes only. Each lease contained reservations with respect to the Crown's mineral rights and reserved 'the right of any person duly authorised in that behalf by the Governor of Our said State in Council at all times to go upon the said Land, or any part thereof, for any purpose whatsoever, or to make any survey, inspection, or examination of the same.'
The idea that native title rights could have been extinguished by the granting of limited rights over vast areas that were, in most cases, not even taken up may have been a significant influence on the Court in determining that indeed these two kinds of interests were capable of coexisting and had indeed been concurrently exercised.
Keywords: native title claim, pastoral lease, Thayorre people, Wik, Wik & Co-Existence, 1993
Author: Strelein, Lisa