Activists say they will do whatever it takes to protect Deebing Creek, near Ipswich, Queensland, from a proposed development.
Protesters stood their ground late into the evening on Thursday at the site of the old mission, barricading the road, and ignoring police attempts to move them on.
“I think we’ve been going alright,” said Uncle Wade Thompson. “We’re just trying to disrupt as much as we can. We’ve had some good support, some real good strong support.
“We barricaded the road and we’re trying to do as much as we can. What’s happened is wrong. We could have sorted this out another way. We just want our land back, that’s not asking for much. We just want the land that means so much to our community.”
Aunty Berta Graham described the heavy police presence as a ‘disgrace’.
“There’s more police here than in Ipswich protecting our town,” she said. “They’re out here worrying about these poor old Aboriginals camping on our ground here, on our land.
“There were three people camping here last night. About 20 people came in to remove our three people.”
One man spent five hours in a tree before he was taken away by paramedics, suffering from dehydration.
Ipswich Elder Aunty Faye Carr said police refused to let other demonstrators help him with food and water.
“We wanted to go down and give him some water,” she said.
“They wouldn’t even give him a bottle of water.”
Police protected the developer as he came into the site, infuriating protesters, who threw bottles, telling him to leave the site alone.
Although the development company, Frasers Property Group, has promised no damage will be done to sacred heritage sites, the Yuggera Ugarapul people remain unconvinced. Elders say some unmarked graves could lie outside the cemetery boundary.
“My three times great grandfather is from here,” said Uncle Wade. “This is the place our old kings and queens lived. They’re buried up here. They found a little cemetery where they could be buried, but no one knows for sure. They could be buried anywhere.”