BATHURST'S Wiradyuri elders say they were compelled to apply for extra protection of Aboriginal heritage on Mount Panorama Wahluu despite new concerns raised within Bathurst Regional Council over future development on the Mount.
The Wiradyuri Traditional Owners Central West Aboriginal Corporation (WTOCWAC) made an application earlier this month for an expanded protection area on the Mount under Section 10 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act (ATSIHP).
They say the specified area is under threat from a number of proposals, including the construction of the second circuit and associated facilities; circuit maintenance and preparation proposed by the Panorama Motorcycle Club; remediation works at McPhillamy Park proposed by council; the construction of a dwelling at 428 Conrod Straight; and geotechnical test pits and boreholes for the construction of the Regis pipeline.
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In a statement to the Western Advocate, a spokesperson for the WTOCWAC said the directors' role as custodians of country in around Bathurst meant they were "compelled to apply for the protection offered by Section 10".
"The 18 November 2021 Notice is an invitation to the community to make representations in relation to this application. These representations will be considered by the reporter assigned to consider the application," the statement said.
"The application has not been determined. If successful, a declaration under the legislation will forbid the desecration of a recognised site of significant Indigenous cultural heritage. The ultimate decision regarding WTOCWAC's application lies with the Federal Minister for the Environment.
"As is acknowledged by its dual naming, Mount Panorama-Wahluu is of critical importance to the Bathurst Wiradyuri people and Bathurst Wiradyuri history and culture. It is part of songlines, Wiradyuri Dreamings, and Creation.
"... Wahluu has been a central part of Wiradyuri life for millennia and the directors are called to protect it. We very much hope that Wahluu receives the necessary recognition and protection appropriate for a place of spiritual and cultural importance."
The WTOCWAC's bid for an expanded protection area comes after Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley made a declaration in May to permanently protect a site in McPhillamy Park that had been earmarked for a go-kart track.
Council general manager David Sherley told the Western Advocate earlier this month that the new claim could have a "significant impact on potential growth of car racing in the Mount Panorama precinct and economic impacts to the city".
Ms Ley has appointed Elle Lillis from Northern Rivers-based archaeology, history and heritage management specialists Virtus Heritage to prepare a report regarding the Section 10 application. The deadline for representations is 5pm on December 6, 2021.
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