Murray Island, a tiny speck in the Coral Sea, on the northernmost fringe of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is one of the most beautiful and isolated places in Australia, if not the world. However, Murray Island, or Mer as it is called by the Merlam people, is the centre of a legal battle that questions the very basis of European settlement in Australia. Three Murray Islanders have taken the Queensland and Australian Governments to court claiming that islanders, not the State, own island land. They say that in Merlam law and custom their families had, since time immemorial, distinct rights to the land and to adjoining seabeds and reefs. Islanders argue that those rights continued after the island was annexed to the then British Colony of Queensland.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Yarra Bank Films