• Aerial view of the proposed quarry site. (Supplied/Save Cedar Point Action Group)
Githabul tribal elders have revealed the secret location of an ancient sacred men’s site in a bid to stop a hill being blasted to make way for a basalt quarry near Kyogle, in northern New South Wales.
By
NITV Staff Writer

Source:
NITV News
19 Jul 2016 - 11:24 AM  UPDATED 19 Jul 2016 - 4:45 PM

Rob Williams of the Githabul Elders Tribal Council stated that knowledge of the human remains had not been shared until now because of the need to protect their whereabouts. Elders are now sharing the information with the public, as plans to blast the hill are imminent.

Mr Williams told NITV: "We are trying to protect the remains there… they’re looking to blow that hilltop to smithereens. Then the remains will come out… Please leave the remains where they are.

"There are human remains there without a shadow of a doubt. We know that if a young man or a young boy doesn’t make it to manhood… then they’re buried there if they don’t pass, if they die in their heavy training. The burial site is there."

The Githabul tribal elders and the Save the Cedar Point group believe that proper procedure was not followed in the approval the basalt quarry in 2012. They maintain Ron Randall, CEO of the Gugin Gudduba Local Aboriginal Land Council in Kyogle gave the go ahead without consulting with the Githabul people. Comment is being sought from Rob Randall and the Gugin Gudduba Local Aboriginal Land Council in Kyogle.

NITV understands that the local Gullibal people also claim traditional ownership of the land and support the development of the site, which is currently privately owned.

Githabul elders and the Save Cedar Point Action Group started opposing the development in 2012, by taking action on social media and starting online petitions.

Over a dozen people attempted to access the site on Tuesday and staged a protest to stop plans to build a quarry on the Aboriginal Tribal Men's Initiation site. They were met by police and Wayne Walker, an Indigenous site officer who supports the quarry and also claims to be an elder with ties to the site.

Rob Graham, owner of Graham's Quarry, the company planning to develop the site, told NITV that he didn't know about the protest. He claims his company has "dealt with the local land council" and obtained all the necessary permissions. Mr Graham says the land in dispute doesn’t belong to the Githabul people.

Mr Williams told NITV: "We only went to the gate. We were not allowed past there. They said we were trespassing. They had the police there to stop us from going to the site.

"I’d like the local aboriginal council to sit with us as blackfellas, as human beings… and dealing with it properly as they did back in the old days, with proper consultation."

Mr Williams believes both Gullibal and Githabul people have ancestral ties to the land and should work together. He told NITV: "I'm very disappointed with my fellow countrymen, my people, whenever they see the dollar sign, they jump to it. Please! They should know our culture is priceless compared to the dollar sign."

Githabul tribal council member Jarmbi Githabul told NITV:  "There are many sacred sites around the country… We need these sites for the future. It's not all gone, it's not all forgotten. We can still go back and start being respectful to the old connections to mother earth, through our laws and traditions."

The group claims that the scars on trees at the site are evidence of where, for thousands of years, boys-turning-into-men made their first axes out of basalt. Previous excavations have shown that the hill also contains water.