Letter | Listen to the anthropologists when it comes to Mount Panorama cultural sites

I WRITE in response to your article of August 27, "Fury over bills: councillors upset by $500,000 for Aboriginal heritage studies".

This article does the journalistic reputation of the Western Advocate no favours, intimating that half a million bucks has already been wasted on the Mount Panorama cultural study, before vaguely mentioning that this is actually the total amount spent across the entire Bathurst region.

It reads as a dog whistle to the 'person in the street' (who's doing it tough) that their rates are being wasted on bureaucratic red-tape to substantiate an obscure story identifying Mount Panorama/Wahluu as a cultural sensitive site for the Wiradyuri.

Is Cr Alex Christian being disingenuous or plain ignorant when he asserts there is no physical proof that Wahluu is an important Wiradyuri site? 

Council general manager David Sherley said experienced anthropologists engaged by council were satisfied that Mount Panorama was a culturally significant site for the Wiradyuri people.

Does Cr Christian know better?

Maybe he should step forward with his proof to demonstrate we’ve all made a huge mistake co-naming the site.

Does he honestly expect physical proof to remain on a site that's been the focus of farming, land clearing and development for 200-plus years?

The Vatican was built on a site "believed" to be where St Peter was buried in a shallow grave. Jerusalem is the most sacred city in Christendom because Christians "believe" it was the site of some of Jesus' most important teachings, the Last Supper, and his crucifixion.

“Believe” is the operative word; physical proof is unnecessary for Christian sacred sites.

The Wiradyuri believe Wahluu is a vitally important religious site, and their objection to a go-kart track on a women’s site is based on cultural history and stories.

Cr Monica Morse made this point, but it appears to be lost on most of council.

As for Cr Warren Aubin's call to ram through the go-kart track DA because 200 potential club members are sick of waiting, some questions: 

How and why is public land being appropriated for a private club?

Who paid for the cost of the DA? Was it public money?

And who tallied up the half a million back-of-a-beermat calculation and then pinned it to Wiradyuri opposition to development on Mount Panorama?

It’s a neatly opportunistic smokescreen to divert attention, but hardly a serious argument for haste.

This council has embraced an ugly culture of churn and burn.

They were happy to embrace the Wiradyuri in 2015 to ensure colourful bicentennial celebrations with a gracious Welcome to Country by Windradyne’s descendant and a make-nice pantomime for visiting dignitaries, but three years on they just want the Wiradyuri to step aside, disregard cultural objections and ram through developments that could literally be built anywhere, but insist have to be built on a sacred Wiradyuri women’s site. 

A recent article in The Guardian highlighted the fact that the eyes of the nation are now on this Mount Panorama/Wahluu tussle – how it’s settled will impact on not only the reputation of a few impatient councillors, but the entire region. 

Paul Stafford, Billywillinga