Hope Vale is a Cape York community of 1,500
people, who belong to clans that are part of the Guugu Yimithirr
Tribe. For information about the artists working at Hope Vale,
see our page on Hope Vale artists
of Cape York.
Hope Vale is situated 48 kms north of Cooktown,
in a beautiful valley. It is surrounded by tropical native bushland
and mountain ranges, abundant in ancient caves which have been
painted for thousands of years by the Guugu Yimithirr people.
The first European settlement in the region
was a mission called Elim (at Cape Bedford) which resulted from
the shipwreck in 1885 of a Lutheran missionary J. Flierl and
the crew of the boat on which he was travelling. Elim was later
abandoned due to poor land quality, and the alternate site of
Hope Valley was founded.
At the outbreak of World War Two, the missionary managing Hope
Valley was interned and the people sent to Woorabinda near Rockhampton,
almost 1500 kms south of Hope Valley. Nearly a quarter of the
people died during the following years from diseases. In spite
of these adversities, in 1949 the survivors returned to a new
site, and a new Lutheran mission at Hope Vale. Aboriginal people
from the Hope Valley and Bedford Missions were settled here.
The coloured sands at Elim beach, north
east of Hope Vale, traditional country of the Thiithaarr
clan, offers a palette of a wonderful variety of colours,
fascinating local people and visitors as much today as
in ancient times.
The Hope Vale Cultural Centre is at the heart
of Guugu Yimithirr culture and actively involves people of all
ages in passing on the cultural traditions and promoting the
use and teaching of the Guugu Yimithirr language, which is still
alive and spoken daily by local people.
The Centre offers a space to learn ancient
skills, such as gathering and weaving of local fibres and dyeing
them with bush dyes and modern skills such as printing, etching
and modern art techniques.
Hope Vale Art Centre |
Hope Vale Dancers
The long and strong tradition of artists born
of this country and of the Guugu Yimithirr, include Ben McGreen,
John Allums, Godfrey Gordon, Ken Walsh, Tulo Gordon, Sid McIvor,
Walter Jack and Roy McIvor. With many talented, younger artists
emerging, Hope Vale envisions a bright future for its culture.
Prior to invasion by miners, cattlemen, pearlers
and fishers, "Guugu", meaning speech, voice or word
and "Yimithirr" meaning "this way" was spoken
along the coastline from the Annan River in the south to the
Jeannie River in the north, and west to Battle Camp. However,
the language was understood beyond this area. (Source:
The Federation of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages and Culture)
The descendants of these speakers now live at Hope Vale. The
original mission was founded by German Lutheran missionaries
who learnt and wrote down Guugu Yimithirr. There are two distinct
divisions of the language, Thalun-thirr (seaside) and Warrgurgaar
(outside). In 1997 it was estimated that there were perhaps
120 remaining speakers of the language, but this number is now
Prominent Aboriginal leaders and brothers Noel and Gerhardt
Pearson are from Hope Vale.