...We Won! - Mabo vs Queensland Government...
In 1995, filmmaker Trevor Graham wrote the following account of the events that lead up to the High Court victory on June 3rd 1992:
'At the end of May 1992, I was in Sydney working on a film project when I received a call from Eddie Jnr: "We're on our way to Canberra the judgement's coming down on June 3rd, the word is, it's looking good! We'll ring you and let you know."
I also spoke with Bonita:
'They rang and told us (it was a Monday) that the verdict is coming down on Wednesday. I really want to be there. I went with Koiki to some of the cases when the court was on, and now he's not here for this one, I want to be there.'
But the combined funds of the Mabo family did not amount to enough for the plane ticket from Townsville to Canberra that would have allowed Bonita to hear the judgement. Bonita, Eddie Jnr, Mal and Celuia decided to drive the 3,000 kilometre long journey to hear the honourable Justices of the High Court.
'We didn't have that much time to think about it. Mum said to Mel, let's go. It's two days. She just jumped in the car we had 24 hours or something to get there.'
And so it was that when the High Court decision was handed down at 1.00pm on June 3rd, 1992, the Mabo family was at a Parramatta shopping complex, four hours from Canberra. They'd run out of time.
At midday that day I received another 'phone call from Eddie Jnr. I caught a cab to Parramatta and found the Mabo gang in a burger bar. Far from dispirited, their heads were in the clouds, they'd won. The news had flashed around the homes, offices and shopping malls of the nation; the High Court had ruled in favour of Eddie Mabo and his fellow plaintiffs.
"Mum made up a plaque and stuck it on the car, 'We Won.' 'Mabo vs Queensland Government - We Won".'
Keywords: determinations, High Court of Australia, Mabo judgement, 1992
Bonita and Gail Mabo with child holding victory sign.
Author: Graham, Trevor.
© Mabo Family Collection