ANY time, any place, just not here.
That was the message of the Wiradyuri community and their supporters on Thursday, as the debate for a go-kart track at Mount Panorama continues.
Wiradyuri people were joined on Mount Panorama by Bathurst’s Greens councillor John Fry and a special guest, Greens MP David Shoebridge.
Mr Shoebridge understood the fight the Wiradyuri people were going through and proved himself an ally as he promoted their message.
“We’re at the top of Mount Wahluu today to make a very simple call to Bathurst council, which is by all means build a go-kart track – they want a go-kart track – but don’t do it here at the top of this sacred mountain,” he said.
“Listen to the wisdom of the Wiradyuri elders and respect these sacred places.”
The MP was one of many people who visited Bathurst Regional Council’s policy committee meeting on Wednesday night, with the intention of hearing the debate in the discussion forum about the go-kart track.
Mr Shoebridge said that there was no dispute over Bathurst being the home to this kind of facility, but if it were to be built on top of Mount Panorama, it would be at the expense of Aboriginal heritage.
“Please respect this place, please go ahead with your go-kart track, but build a go-kart track where it’s not damaging sacred sites, where it respects the sacred women’s site on top of Mount Wahluu ,” he said.
“This should not be a project that divides the Bathurst community, this should be a project that we can all unite around.”
There has been a lot of discussion about what constitutes a sacred site and how much of a difference the presence of artifacts makes.
However, Mr Shoebridge said that “intangible heritage”, likes stories and connection to land, was just as important.
“Australia has had some very dark history … Wiradyuri people lost their homes and we know that the truth is there were frontier wars here and Wiradyuri people were massacred in those wars,” he said.
“We need to understand that history and respect that history, and the best way we can honour that history is by doing reconciliation now in 2018 by respecting the knowledge and the cultural heritage of Wiradyuri people.
“And that means not building a go-kart track on top of Mount Panorama – Wahluu.”
Cr Fry, who has previously spoken out against the track being built at the chosen site, said it was “a really dumb spot” for this kind of facility.
“I’ve talked to track designers all over the world, I’ve talked to champion race car drivers, I’ve talked to engineers, I’ve talked to ecologists, obviously the traditional owners,” he said.
“All these people are saying it is a much smarter place to put a track down the hill here – it’s only a couple of kilometres away – with the international track (second circuit).”
The difference between the second circuit location and the top of the mountain, Cr Fry said, was the latter held more significance as it was a ceremonial site.
“All the places down at the bottom would have been normal camp sites,” he said.
It has been said that making the go-kart track part of the second circuit would not only delay construction for several more years, but also give karters less access to their track and make it more expensive to hold events.
Cr Fry said he disagreed with that, saying the club would be better off as part of the second track precinct.
“The management of the go-kart track, whether it’s up here or down there, will be exactly the same,” he said.
“In other words, Bathurst council will always own it, and the Bathurst Kart Club will be one of the managing bodies, and they’ll have a big say in the management and the use of it.”
He also didn’t feel the local club would come off second best in favour of international events at the circuit.
“It’ll actually be easier, because this site [on top of the mount] would be closed a lot of times throughout the year from five racing events a year … there’s a number of other events with track closures where they’d lose access,” Cr Fry said.
The original development application for a 950-metre track passed in 2015, allowing a go-kart track to be built in an area on top of Mount Panorama.
A modification was lodged less than a year later, proposing to extend the length of the track so it was to international standard.
It was at this point that objections on the grounds of Aboriginal heritage started to arise, with a decision on the modification yet to be made.
Another report will be prepared for council following Wednesday’s discussion forum.