In 1995 the Bardi Jawi people of the Dampier Peninsula and Buccaneer Archipelago, north-east of Broome in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, lodged their application under the Native Title Act for a determination that Native Title exists. In this paper, Lisa Strelein examines the Federal Court’s decision, handed down on the 10 June 2005 and subsequent reasons published in November 2005. The decision is significant because it is the first substantive determination by Justice French, who is arguably one of the most experienced Native Title Judges of the Federal Court bench. Exclusive possession was recognised over those areas identified as Bardi, the bulk of the claim area, but the trial Judge rejected the self-definition of the claimant group and consequently did not make a determination over those areas identified as Jawi. Strelein examines the basis for this finding and presents possible alternative formulations that may have been open to the Court.