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Place Names Register Extract

Topsy Secretary Juwaning

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Name Topsy Secretary Juwaning
Type Designation Park
Place Id 25034
Place Type Park or Cemetery
Status Registered
Date Registered 6 September 2022
Location (Datum GDA94)  
Latitude: -12° 23' S (Decimal degrees -12.388352)
Longitude: 130° 51' E (Decimal degrees 130.85088)
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Locality / Suburb  
Local Government Area  
  Darwin City Council
History/Origin Named after Topsy Secretary who was born in 1928, in Darwin, to senior Larrakia man Frank Solomon Secretary (Danggalaba clan) and Lucy Danyimil. Topsy's Larrakia name was Juwaning, referring to the hermit crab, ubiquitous in Top End mangroves. The family's European name 'Secretary' derived from her father's employment in Admiralty House and as a typesetter for a Darwin newspaper.

By Christmas 1941, the threat of war saw Topsy and her family evacuated to the newly established Delissaville Settlement on the Cox Peninsula. After the war Topsy moved to the Berrimah Compound and married a Tiwi man, Samuel Yurugudamiri/Puruntatameri, where her only child, Kathleen Minmarama Secretary, was born. In 1951 the residents of Berrimah were relocated to Darwin's Bagot Aboriginal Reserve. In the early 1970s, dissatisfied with the living at Bagot, Topsy joined her brother Bobby Gwilamarinyi Secretary and other Larrakia camping by the Kulaluk Spring in present day Coconut Grove.

Kulaluk would become the focus of the Larrakia fight for land rights throughout the 1970s. Beginning with a barefoot walk from the Kulaluk camp to the city centre on National Aborigines Day 9 July 1971, the group staged a series of protests and petitions that obtained national attention. On 2 June 1973, the Whitlam government's newly appointed Aboriginal Land Rights Commissioner, Mr Justice Woodward, visited the Larrakia at their Kulaluk camp. Topsy submitted to the Commissioner an authoritative genealogy of the Larrakia language group and Danggalaba clan, the traditional owners of the greater Darwin and Cox Peninsula region.

The continued efforts of the Larrakia resulted in the first, and only, land granted to the Larrakia within the town area of Darwin. On 25 August 1979, Topsy and her family, incorporated as the Gwalwa Daraniki Association (GDA), signed the 'Special Purpose Lease' for 301 hectares of land at Kulaluk. In 2006, Mr Justice Mansfield, in the Federal Court of Australia, credited the strength and vibrance of the Larrakia community in the twenty-first century to the cultural revival which arose out of the interest attracted by the 1970s Larrakia land claims.

In addition to the struggle for land rights, Topsy was a strong advocate for Aboriginal family, health and wellbeing. Topsy was part of the movement that lobbied for the establishment of a community controlled Aboriginal health service in Darwin and suggested the Larrakia words Danila Dilba (referring to the dilly bag used for collecting bush medicine) for the name of the clinic that opened in 1991. She also lobbied for an aged care facility to be located on Kulaluk land to provide culturally appropriate care for the local Aboriginal community. In 1987, the Juninga Centre opened as an aged care centre and was named in Topsy's honour with an alternative spelling of her Larrakia name, Juwaning.

Topsy took over raising her grandchildren in 1986 when she lost her daughter Kathleen, who tragically passed away in an accident on Bagot Road. As one of the most proficient speakers of the Larrakia language and custodian of cultural knowledge, Topsy devoted much of her later years to sharing her extensive knowledge of Larrakia language words, stories and traditional customs to educators, historians, linguists and government agencies. As a senior Larrakia traditional owner, Topsy gave Welcomes to Country at many events and openings, and was joined by former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam on 27 February 1992 to open Mitbul House in Casuarina, the former Darwin premises of the Northern Land Council.

Topsy Secretary Juwaning passed away in May 1999 and is buried on Kulaluk.

Register & Gazettal information

Date Gazettal Comment
06/09/2022 Date added to the Register (Certified Plan - S2022/066)
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