WIRADYURI elders have slammed Bathurst Regional Council for what they claim is a lack of consultation over a new kart track to be built on Mount Panorama.
A development application (DA) to construct a 950 metre long track on land owned by council was approved without objection in 2015.
However, when Bathurst Kart Club sought to increase the track’s length to host larger and more prestigious events, it came to the attention of Wiradyuri elders.
Dinawan Dyirribang says as one of the land’s traditional owners he should have been contacted when the original DA was lodged.
“They never knew it was a sacred place because they never consulted us,” he said.
Dinawan said the proposed track location at the rear of McPhillamy Park was a traditional women’s area, a place of ceremony and part of their Dreaming.
But council general manager David Sherley said the cultural heritage value of the site had always been a consideration.
He said Aboriginal Heritage Study consultants for the Bathurst local government area had advised that: “Given past disturbance to the area it would be unlikely that archaeological relics would be located at the site.”
Mr Sherley said that when the Wiradyuri elders’ objections were received, council commissioned an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment (ACHA), worth around $240,000, for the track and Mount Panorama precinct.
“The assessment will include archaeological test excavation work,” Mr Sherley said.
“An important and critical element of the study process is consultation with all Aboriginal organisations who may have an interest in the matter.”
They never knew it was a sacred place because they never consulted us.Wiradyuri elder Dinawan Dyirribang
But Wiradyuri elder Brian Grant (Mallyan) said “artefacts are secondary to the fact it’s a sacred space” to his community.
Mr Sherley said the ACHA would establish the extent, nature and significance of Aboriginal sites, objects and values, and would liaise with key stakeholders including the Wiradyuri elders.
It would also include an independent anthropological assessment and ethnographic survey to identify and assesses cultural mythological and spiritual values associated with the precinct.
Mallyan suggested rather than using $240,000 of taxpayers’ money for the assessment that Wiradyuri elders could provide a similar cultural assessment.
Then, he suggested council and the Wiradyuri should seek an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) through the Native Titles Tribunal.
“What we’re doing is giving up our Native Title right and letting them use it for a certain time [under an ILUA],” Mallyan said.
Under this, Mallyan said the Wiradyuri could then negotiate a fee or percentage of gate takings for races at the track for allowing council to “use our land”.
This, he said, would be held in a community trust.