Hope Vale

The Aboriginal community of Hope Vale on Cape York Peninsula was established as the Cape Bedford Mission by the Johann Flierl, a missionary of the Lutheran Church in 1886, with the settlement at Elim on the beach.

Location: Hope Vale (also spelt Hopevale) is 46 km northwest of Cooktown by road, and about 10 km off the Battlecamp Road that leads to Lakefield National Park and Laura.

Due to worries that the Aboriginal people might cooperate with the advancing Japanese in World War II, the total population was evacuated south to various communities by the military. The German Lutheran missionaries were sent to internment camps. Most of the people were sent to Woorabinda, near Rockhampton, in Queensland. In just one month, 28 people lost their lives, with nearly a quarter of the people dying over the next 8 years.

Hope Vale was re-established as a Lutheran Mission in September 1949. Aboriginal people from the Hope Valley and Cape Bedford Missions settled there. A work crew was allowed to return in 1949 and the first families came home in 1950.

Hopevale is no longer run as a mission by the church, but by its own elected Community Council. In 1986 it received a "Deed of Grant in Trust" (or "DOGIT") which "granted title to 110 000 ha of land which was previously Aboriginal Reserve Land held by the Under Secretary as trustee, to the Community Council to act as trustees of the land for the benefit of the residents." The Aboriginal Land Act 1991 (Qld) transferred into Indigenous ownership all previous reserve land under DOGIT (Deed of Grant in Trust) titles.

Hopevale is home to several clan groups who mostly speak Guugu Yimidhirr and other related languages, as well as English.Due to a lack of reliable water supplies at Elim, the community was shifted about 20 km inland to its present site.


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The Hope Vale community has a strong choral singing tradition since its evacuation to Woorabinda. The ensemble has performed at the Queensland Music Festival on three separate occasions in 2005, 2007 and most recently on 1 August 2009. In April 2004 - 2005 the choir also toured for four days, visiting tourist resorts, churches, and correctional and rehabilitation facilities. The tour was made possible by the Queensland Arts Council Quick Response Grant and received coverage on ABC Radio Cairns on the Pat Morrish 'Morning Show'.

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