Work halted at aboriginal burial ground
Work has come to a halt on a Booker Bay development after it was claimed to have damaged a culturally-significant aboriginal burial ground.
The Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council has claimed that excavation for a new building had "significantly damaged" a shell midden and that Gosford Council was responsible for providing incorrect information which allowed it to occur.
Gosford Council had written to the developer stating "that the site was clear for development" and it "did not declare the previously identified requirements for an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit", according to Darkinjung CEO Mr Sean Gordon
"It's just heartbreaking to see a potential site of our collective history bulldozed over because of an administrative error, oversight or any other reason," he said.
"Despite the damage to the site and potential breaches of the National Parks and Wildlife Act, we remain committed to working with all relevant parties to develop an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit for the site so that works can proceed.
"With an increased awareness of our culture and history, we can all ensure that we're protecting our shared history.
"Together, we can make sure that errors like this don't ever happen again," he said.
According to Mr Gordon, the recent history surrounding the site in Booker Bay Rd, Booker Bay started in July 1970 when aboriginal remains were found within property.
In April 2010, a development application was made for the property by its former owner.
Then in June 2010, an initial inspection reported the possible presence of an Aboriginal burial ground and shell midden.
The site was then registered with the Office of Environment and Heritage's Aboriginal Information Management System.
In April 2012, the property's former owners commissioned a report on the property by Austral Archaeology.
Austral determined, among other things, that the entire study area was considered to be of high potential significance and any subsurface activity in the study area could have had an adverse impact on the important site, Mr Gordon said.
The Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council formally responded to Austral Archaology in June 2012 and suggested further investigation was warranted.
"In July 2012, Gosford Council received notice from Office of Environment and Heritage that recommended an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit and strict compliance with its terms," Mr Gordon said.
According to Mr Gordon, between August 2012 and February 2015, the property was sold to its new owner, Urban Growth NSW.
"The new owner demolished the existing dwelling on the property and developed a new dwelling under State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP, Affordable Rental Housing) 2009," Mr Gordon said.
"In February 2015, the Office of Environment and Heritage received a report of damage by construction works to a registered shell midden on the site."
"For more than five years we've been working with Gosford Council, various state government departments and the former owner of a property in Booker Bay to properly determine the cultural significance of the site," Mr Gordon said.
"It's extremely disappointing that after all this time, diligence and effort from so many people, we now have an unapproved construction sitting on top of a potentially culturally significant site.
"As a community here on the Central Coast and especially on the Woy Woy Peninsula, there is a strong recognition of the importance of our heritage.
"This is not just aboriginal heritage, this is Australian heritage."
Media release, 10 June 2015
Ashleigh Milne, Brilliant Logic