Mt Tabor Indigenous cattle station

Keelan Mailman (centre with hat) and Bidjara mob, showing cultural sites to Bush Heritage visitors at the Lost City, Mt Tabor Station, Queensland (Photo: APY)

Keelan Mailman (centre with hat) and Bidjara mob,
showing cultural sites to Bush Heritage visitors at the
Lost City, Mt Tabor Station, Queensland (Photo: APY)

Mt Tabor Station is currently owned by the Indigenous Land Corporation with the intention of returning the property to Bidjara traditional owners over the next few years.
For the last 11 years Mt Tabor has been managed by Keelen Mailman, a Bidjara woman who in 2007 was a Queensland-Australian of the year finalist, and is considered to be Australia’s first female Aboriginal cattle station manager. Mt Tabor Station is situated on Keelan’s traditional country in the Carnarvon Ranges in central Queensland and covers an area of around 70,000 hectares with 2200 head of cattle leased to a business which also leases cattle on other properties in the district.

Mt Tabor is not a designated conservation area, but the management of the property occurs in such a way as to make conservation of environmental assets, and cultural sites a critical outcome, along with the economic and social benefits Keelen is a Native Title applicant and a current member of the Bidjara Traditional Owners Group. She is strongly committed and passionate about the protection and preservation of Bidjara culture, including the return of the remains of deceased Bidjara to their country. Keelen has worked with various organisations within the local region such as Aboriginal Health, schools, Landcare and Bush Heritage Australia. One project at Mt Tabor is based on a natural spring system surrounded by artefact scatters. The spring complex was being heavily impacted by feral horses, feral pigs and cattle. Pools were churned into a mud and manure slurry and no free standing clear water remained. In cooperation with the Indigenous Land Corporation, South West Natural Resource Management Inc. and the Bidjara people, the area was fenced off.

Based on field visits and knowledge sharing with neighbouring Carnarvon Station (a Bush Heritageowned property) pig-proof, buried mesh fencing was used and a solar powered pump and trough installed in a more stable area, away from the springs, outside the fencing. This means that larger native animals still have access to water here and feral animals will be less likely to damage the new fencing trying to get through to their well-known watering hole. The site will be maintained in the long term to maintain a viable primary production enterprise while protecting the cultural and natural values of the area. Further fencing to protect other springs, cultural artefact scatters and Indigenous artwork is part of the long-term management plan for the property. A property management plan is currently in preparation for Mt Tabor which will address the range of considerations important to Bidjara people including cultural, social, economic and environmental considerations, and ensuring elders and young people are able to visit and maintain connection to traditional
country.