Tracey Lee Ludwick

Tracey Lee Ludwick is from Cairns, Queensland and is connected to the Hope Vale Aboriginal community. Her diverse Queensland Aboriginal heritage is with the Angamutthi people from Injinoo, the Bulgoone-Wada from Kings Plain near Cooktown and the Wakkaman from Chillagoe. Her German grandfather was Rhinehold Henry Ludwig from Hannover. She holds university degrees in Education, Indigenous Community Development and is studying for a degree in Business. She prides herself in being an activist for Indigenous rights and contributing to the reform of government policies.

Since childhood Tracey has been involved with music: singing along with Jimmy Little’s recordings, performing at school concerts and forming bands.

As a singer and songwriter she has won many music competitions across Queensland, but for Tracey Ludwick “none were as important to me as winning the Port Pirie Country Music Festival in South Australia. Other Indigenous people told me I could never win because of my race, but I never backed down. I believe I broke down some of the racial barriers in the music world of the area”.

Vrilya Point coastline on northwestern Cape York Peninsula

Hope Vale

The current Aboriginal community of Hope Vale is inland of the east coast of Cape York Peninsula approximately fifty kilometres north of Cooktown. It has over one thousand residents and is home to thirteen different clan groups. Historically, Europeans visited the general area in 1770 when the British explorer James Cook careened his vessel the Endeavour for repairs at what is now known as the Endeavour River. There was increased Aboriginal-European contact when gold was discovered in 1873 in the Palmer River area. It brought them into direct conflict due to the influx of miners and settlers and the subsequent disruption of traditional food supplies and social and cultural activities.

In 1886 the German Lutheran church established a mission, the Cape Bedford Mission, at the coastal site of Elim. Initially it was mainly Aborigines from the immediate area who resided at the mission, but eventually other Aborigines from elsewhere were relocated there as well. During World War Two the Australian government was concerned that Aboriginal people might cooperate with the Japanese, due to the influence of the Japanese in maritime industries and also because of the Germans working at the mission. Consequently, the Germans were interned in prisoner of war camps and the Aboriginal residents were forcibly relocated elsewhere en masse, which lead to many Aboriginal deaths over the prolonged years of displacement.

In 1949 the Lutheran mission was re-established and Aboriginal people allowed to return. A Deed of Grant in Trust (DOGIT) was approved in 1986 and after the enactment of the Aboriginal Land Act of 1991 (Qld) ownership of prior reserve land passed to Indigenous control. In 1997 Native Title Rights were recognised for the Warra people at Hope Vale. Today, the Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire Council is the governing body.

Musically, the Hope Vale community has a strong choral music tradition due to the influence of the Lutheran church, with its choirs performing the community’s unique sacred music to diverse audiences. There are also well-regarded contemporary secular musicians connected with the community.