Norman Baird: A Spark Within

The book “Norman Baird – a spark within” has encapsulated the details of the life of an extraordinary indigenous Australian – Norman Baird who was a Bama Buruwarra (man from Buru).

EXTRACTS from Norman Baird – a spark within

Norman Baird once wrote that he was prepared to advocate for the Kuku Yalanji people as long as there was ‘a spark left within’. In this letter he writes about his concern for the welfare of his community and how bureaucratic process was depriving Bama of their rights.

He was a man who despite feeling as though no progress was being made and that little if any justice was forthcoming, continued to work for the betterment of his people until the end of his life.

As a young man Norman fought to defend the rights of Australians in World War I only to come home and fight for his own freedom and that of his children. As an old man and almost blind, Norman recorded an ancient language and preserved part of a unique Australian culture.

Norman’s mother was an indigenous Australian and his father was native to Scotland. He learnt skills from both cultures: reading and writing, mining and hunting, English and Kuku Yalanji – skills that served him from the jungles of Far North Queensland to the battlefields of Europe.

Norman’s story provides an opportunity to glimpse the history of Far North Queensland – a shared history, and one that needs to be told so that common ground can be found to strengthen and unite Australian communities.

pdf Download the PDF for More Information 280.95 Kb

Cape York Deaming Track

Hike it, bike it, ride it, drive it… do it! DT_logo_with_tan_bkgrd

Balkanu is working with the Traditional Owners of Cape York to develop the greatest tourism trail in Cape York Peninsula – the Cape York Dreaming Track – traversing the beautiful unspoilt areas of eastern Cape York Peninsula from the Daintree rainforests in the south, through mountains, savannah plains, wetlands and stunning coastline, to the most northern tip of Australia.

The Cape York Dreaming Track will create a world-class tourism brand for indigenous Cape York that is owned by the Traditional Owners. Based on an interlinking tourist track network of iconic experiences, it will offer a diversity of experiential journeys that focus on nature, adventure and indigenous culture, delivered by the indigenous people of Cape York.

With education, training, mentoring, and business support as the foundation, the Cape York Dreaming Track will support the development and growth of aspirational, new and existing indigenous-owned businesses, products and services that link cohesively with and add value to the local and regional tourism sector. This broadened Traditional Owner participation in the regional economy will not only improve employment and financial opportunities for the people of Cape York, but will deliver corresponding, interrelated social, health, education, and land management outcomes.

With its stunning scenery and unique environments, fascinating history and enduring indigenous cultures, exploring the vast wilderness of Cape York Peninsula is a life changing experience that has visitors returning over and over again. Cape York is like no other place. It is one of the last preserved tropical regions in the world, but that’s only part of the story.


Gamaay rangers and familyKeeping the dream alive

An exciting milestone for an ambitious Cape York tourism project was reached on 17 December 2014 when the first leg of the Dreaming Track was officially launch by Federal Member for Leichardt, Warren Entsch, at the Cooktown’s Grassy Hill lookout.

It was a proud day for the Gamaay people, the Traditional Owners of the land on the north shore of Cooktown on which the track was built.

Under the supervision of Balkanu Cape York Corporation, a committed workforce of Gamaay people constructed the 20 kilometres of class five track in a record time – from April to December 2014.

“It is an awesome experience to walk it and have customers visit our country,” said Traditional Owner Erica Deeral at the launch on Grassy Hill.

Another Tradtional Owner, Patrick Morris, said he felt “so proud to see someone smile when they see the view from the top.”

The Gamaay Traditional Owners were dedicated to the porject, with 100% worker attendance during the tough construction phase and full commitment from design, to consultation, to completion.

Gerhardt Pearson, Chief Executive of Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation, paid tribute to the determination and grit of the Gamaay people through the duration of phase one of the project.

“The Traditional Owners have been integral to the design, the community consultations, the research and the construction of the “Track,” he said at the opening. “Tradiitional Owners must show commitment and ownership of their project through the construction phase, as this flows on throught the business developement and into the running of a successful business.”

Mr Warren Entsch was delighted with the Walking Track and it’s ultimate goal to snake more than 1000 kilometres from outside Cairns to the tip of the Cape, which will provide economic opportunties and culture sharing for dozens of Tradtional Owner groups along the way.

“Quite frankly, I think this has the potential to be one of our national greatest walks,” Mr Entsch enthused after the opening.

Now Gamaay Traditional Owners are very eager to start on the next part of the journey – to open the Track to the public by April 2015 and to develop the next phase, building businesses associated with it such as fishing guided and non-guided tours, bushwalker collection services and camping sites.

Balkanu Cape York Developement Corporation, which is assisting the Tradtional Owners wih their aspirations, continues to work with the Gamaay people on their business plans. It is expected that Gamaay clan will need up to two years of support developing their businesses, marketing their products and services and running the booking facilities.

Balkanu’s specialty is in providing practical business development and mentoring structures for Traditional Owners and will walk the journey with the Gamaay people and other Traditional Owner groups as the project winds it’s way up the Cape over the next few decades.

But the project requires a continuation of funding to help Traditional Owners realise their dreams. The first phase of feasibililty, market research, design and construction was completed throught an injection of capital from both the Commonwealth and State of Queensland.

Hike, bike, ride or drive the Cape York to discover the real Cape York.

Gamaay Dreaming Track will be opening in August 2015

If you are planning to walk the Gamaay Dreaming Track, walking permits are required and fees can be paid at the following;

Reenactment Association

The Boathouse, 121a Charlotte St, Cooktown

Call (07) 4069 6861

or email:

(click Events for more info)



Download Maps of the Gamaay Dreaming Track

pdf Gamaay Dreaming Track Map 2015

pdf Gamaay Dreaming Track Map – Mount Saunders to Campsite June 2015

pdf Gamaay Dreaming Track Map – Indian Head to Nob point June 2015


ABC and NITV footage of the Gamaay Dreaming Track Celebration.

ABC News Dreaming Track Story

NITV News Dreaming Track Story

pdf Exciting New Tourism Venture Launched – Media Release.pdf





For more information,

Please contact Balkanu at or by calling (07) 4019 6200

Turtle & Dugong Taskforce

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