In 1946 a group of Saibai islanders, lead by a Torres Strait islander called Bamaga Ginau moved to Mutee Head on the mainland at Cape York Peninsula after part of their island started to be washed away by tidal waves. In 1947 the islanders moved again to what is now known as the town of Bamaga. The 44500 acres reserved for these Aboriginals at Cowal Creek and Mutee Heads in 1948 were amalgamated in 1951 with the already established Cowal Creek 'Camp', under the name of "Cape York Government Settlement", extending the settlement to 97620 acres and making the township of Bamaga the administrative centre.
The communities of Bamaga, Cowal Creek, New Mapoon and Umagico are adjacent to each other and were described, for geographical convenience, as the Northern Peninsula Reserves. However, they were separate residential communities. For Departmental purposes they were supervised as one, from Bamaga. Red Island Point, on the coast, was the fifth community that fell within this group. These communities were referrerd to in Annual Reports sometimes as reserves, sometimes as settlements. Bamaga was a predominantly Islander community while the other four were Aboriginal.
The name "Cape York Government Settlement" was listed as such on Annual Reports until 1965, but by 1954 it had fallen into disuse in favour of "Northern Peninsula Reserves". At the same time, the name 'Bamaga' came into prominence by virtue of this community being the administrative centre and the largest in size. However, even though "Bamaga Aboriginal Settlement" was officially established in 1958, it was never listed as such in Annual Reports.
The establishment of the Director of Native Affairs Office represented a change in government policy. From the protection and segregation of indigenous people it moved towards protection and preservation, through assimilation, into the broad 'white community'. The Act conferred freedom and full citizenship rights to qualifying Aborigines, individual circumstances permitting. There was also a consolidation of powers for administering native estates, for more effective government and development of Aboriginal reserves, and for control of Native Trust Fund.
The Director of Native Affairs Office and the Deputy Director of Native Affairs, Thursday Island controlled and managed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of the Northern Peninsula area, both adults and children, who were deemed to be 'assisted' or 'wards' of the State. This power was exercised in regard to health, education, employment, housing and accommodation, child welfare, personal finances, pensions and benefits, training, property, and the issue of Certificates of Exemption.
After the Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act 1897 was passed, all existing Aboriginal reserves were brought under the Act. Superintendents were appointed to some reserves and some missionaries in charge also became Superintendents. Unmanaged reserves were controlled by the Local Protector of Aboriginals.
By 1965 the Northern Peninsula Reserves were under the direction of a Superintendent based on Bamaga and consisted of the settlements/reserves of Bamaga, Cowal Creek, Red Island Point, New Mapoon (peopled by Aborigines from Mapoon Mission who voluntarily made the transfer around 1961), and Umagico (peopled by Aborigines transfered from the Lockhart River Mission). They all reported to the Deputy Director of Native Affairs in Thursday Island. The Deputy Director reported to the Director of Native Affairs in Brisbane.
The Director of Native Affairs Office, Bamaga was abolished on 28 Apr 1966 when
all the functions of the Director of Native Affairs Office were transferred to the Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs.
The starting date for this agency is the date the Cape York Government Settlement came into existence.