Mt Warning sign appeals to walkers conscience
Widjabul Elder John Roberts (pictured) is so angry about the desecration of his peoples sacred mountain Wollumbin (Mt Warning) he is thinking of re-visiting an abandoned native title claim.
I dont want to really do that, he said. Its too sacred for a claim to be put over it. It should be free and untouched.
What he does want is for peoples conscience to make them pause and reconsider climbing the mountain, which is a World Heritage site and attracts 80-100,000 visitors every year.
He said a sign was supposed to be in place at the bottom of the track two years ago.
If you climb this mountain, you do so against the wishes of the Bundjalung Elders and the Bundjalung people thats the wording we want, he said. Were saying be aware of what you are climbing. Were looking at reconciliation. How can we have reconciliation if people dont respect the Aborginal sacred laws and customs? We respect white mans churches. We dont desecrate anything. We just want the same thing in return.
He said he was angry at the media for suggesting the Elders wanted to ban people from the mountain.
Mr Roberts said the Elders wanted a sign to be erected and while some people would choose to ignore it, a lot of people would reconsider climbing if they knew how sacred it was.
Because there are a lot of good white Australian people out there who respect our traditions and customs, he said. What we have here is a mountain that comes under the same category or even higher than Uluru. Because Uluru has one tribe. This mountain has many.
Mr Roberts said because the climb took over four hours, people would take food and drink with them, which led to rubbish being left behind.
But theres human waste as well, he said. Thats disrespectful to the site in a big way.
Mr Roberts said Mt Warning was the last place of initiation for old men and was extremely significant to all the tribes of the Bundjalung nation.
Wollumbin was also where Bundjalung laws were distributed, he said.
It was like a high court. If one tribe had broken law against another tribe, they handled all that stuff.
Mr Roberts said no Aboriginal person would climb Mt Warning.
I view that mountain from afar, and feel it as a spiritual place, he said. I dont need to go there.
A spokesman for the National Parks and Wildlife Service said signage was in the process of being approved. There is no clear timeline at this stage for when it will be erected.