• Environmentalists from the Bankstown Bushland Society inspect 'scarred trees' at Milperra. (Bankstown Bushland Society)Source: Bankstown Bushland Society
An environmental group says the Aboriginal heritage of a group of trees under the threat of development has been overlooked as the community awaits a final decision on the redevelopment of an old golf course.
James Elton-Pym

16 Aug 2016 - 2:27 PM  UPDATED 17 Aug 2016 - 1:02 PM

Environmentalists are fighting to save a cluster of scarred trees in Milperra on the basis of Aboriginal heritage.

Scarred trees can be found right around Australia. They are the result of Aboriginal people removing bark from trees to make canoes, shelters and storage containers. The practice was also adopted by some early European settlers.

Local environmentalist Chris Brogan told NITV News he “snuck on to the site” last week to photograph around 10 of the most-scarred trees.

“Well they’re of great heritage and ecological value. They’re not just remnant bushland trees, they’re a record of Indigenous history in this area.”

Mr Brogan sent the photographs to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), where a final decision on a proposed redevelopment of the site is pending. The proposal would see a section of the old Riverlands Golf Course rezoned for residential construction, and the environmentalists are concerned the trees would be destroyed.

An Aboriginal heritage report conducted for Bankstown Council, which has since been merged with Canterbury Council, did not find any Aboriginal “archaeological sites or items on the residential zoned land”.

A council spokesman told NITV News a number of Aboriginal groups had been consulted, including the Gandangarra Local Aboriginal Land Council and the Darug Tribal Aboriginal Custodians. 

The spokesman reiterated the findings of the heritage report, saying it found "no registered or visible Aboriginal archaeological sites."

But NITV News has obtained a copy of an email sent to the environmental group by OEH staff saying the department was "very concerned at the lack of care given for this issue from the Council".

"We would appreciate a meet with you on site to view these trees in hope that we can list them and save them," the email from an OEH heritage conservation officer read. 

Mr Brogan said he had sent photos to an Aboriginal man from Cronulla in Sydney’s south, who said he believed they were scarred trees, but would not guarantee it as he was not from that country.