Bindunburr and Jabirr Jabirr/Ngumbarl Native Title holders will challenge an appeal from the Commonwealth and WA State Governments this week in the High Court of Australia.

The High Court is set to rule on whether the public has a right to access beaches and waterways within the Bindunburr and Jabirr Jabirr/Ngumbarl determination area in the Middle Dampier Peninsula.

An historic ruling, it’s the first time the High Court will rule in relation to Section 212 of the Native Title Act (1993) (Cth).

First determined in May 2018, the Bindunburr and Jabirr Jabirr/Ngumbarl Native Title determination area covers over 11,600 square kilometres of Country.

Part of the determination, relating to beach and waterway access by the public, was appealed to the Full Federal Court by Traditional Owners.

Bindunburr and Jabirr Jabirr/Ngumbarl Traditional Owners argued the determination should recognise exclusive possession over waterways and beaches where there was no pre-existing right of public access.

By December 2018, the Full Federal Court upheld the appeal and both WA State and Commonwealth Governments then requested special leave to appeal the decision in the High Court.

With the appeal commencing this week, the High Court will have to decide whether public beach and waterway access should be recognised as an interest in Traditional Owners’ Native Title determinations.

Kimberley Land Council’s legal team is representing the Bindunburr and Jabirr Jabirr/Ngumbarl Native Title holders in this matter – the first time the Council has appeared in a High Court appeal since 2002.

The High Court is set to make a decision by mid-2020.