News

'Sacred site' to become quarry

A SACRED Githabul site will be destroyed to make way for a quarry at Cedar Point, Kyogle, according to Githabul Elders.

The basalt quarry site, located just 200m from the Richmond River, is widely recognised among local indigenous people as an important men's place - but it seems that is not enough to protect it.

Githabul Elder Rob Williams said the site was used for ceremony and initiation of boys and that on-going men's health is linked to its preservation.

On the site are several scarred trees which mark its significance. Mr Williams said there would also have been many Aboriginal artefacts on the site, which he claims have been removed.

The site is privately owned by the Carlill family who have an agreement with Graham's Concrete in Kyogle to extract the basalt. The DA was approved by the Joint Regional Planning Panel, subject to conditions of consent, earlier this year.

A cultural heritage assessment was conducted as a requirement of the DA for the quarry. That process saw Everick Heritage Consultants hold meetings with representatives from the Githabul Elders Council at which they were informed of the importance of the site and the Githabul's strong opposition to the quarry proposal.

The elders told Everick that Githabul men would leave the women at a campsite on the river and walk up to the plateau top (the project site) from where there were prominent views of many of the significant spiritual places in the region, such as Wollumbin (Mount Warning) to the east.

This would have played an important role in the initiations, the cultural assessment report notes.

A Bundjalung Elder who was also consulted during the process said the site was also used as a place to carve shields.

However, for a site to be declared an Aboriginal Place, there must be enough evidence to meet legislative requirements. The report by Everick said it was "highly unlikely that the project area would reach the threshold for being declared an Aboriginal Place."

There is no other legislative protection available in New South Wales.

Mr Williams said he was outraged his people had not been notified the quarry had been approved and the first he knew of it was when The Echo contacted him on Tuesday.

"It is disrespectful. We should have been told about it," he said.

Mr Williams has vowed to find a way to stop the project going ahead.

Residents living near the quarry site were also strongly opposed to the development during the DA process. Their concerns centred on noise and dust pollution which they said would ruin their idyllic rural lifestyle.

The residents were granted some concessions in the conditions attached to the development approval. They included that the developer must negotiate with them to purchase their properties if they wish.

The developer will also be required to erect fences to protect the scarred trees and instruct staff working on the site of the importance of the trees. There is also the requirement that if human remains are located at any stage during earthworks all works must halt in the immediate area to prevent any further impacts to the remains.

The quarry will have an annual extraction rate of 47,000 cubic metres per year for 43 years.


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