Wiradyuri community members have expressed their concerns over a plan to construct a new go-kart track on an area of Wahluu (Mount Panorama) that Traditional Owners say is a sacred women's site.
The Wiradyuri Traditional Owners Central West Aboriginal Corporation (WTOCWAC) said the track would "forever destroy this site".
The development application for the go-kart track was approved by the Bathurst Regional Council in January last year, but Wiradyuri Traditional Owners have urged it to reconsider the proposed location for the development.
In a statement, WTOCWAC said it is open to discussions with the council to find a "mutually acceptable alternative location" for the new track.
Elder and WTOCWAC co-director Uncle Brian Grant said a more suitable location should be identified.
“In light of the sacredness of this site we are calling on the Bathurst Regional Council to seek agreement with us on a suitable alternative,” he said.
'Intangible cultural values'
The Mt Panorama race track, well known for hosting the Bathurst 1000, was opened in 1938, following two years of construction.
Since the first race, the track has attracted tens of thousands of motor sport spectators each year.
For Wiradyuri people, the connection to Wahluu spans much further, with a creation story of a young warrior killed by his brother, which has been passed down for generations.
WTOCWAC said a key finding of an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment Report conducted in 2018 revealed that Wahluu was likely a place of mythological and spiritual importance to Wiradyuri people.
“Council should consider whether or not it is feasible to re-locate the proposed go-kart track to an area that is less likely to result in harm to intangible cultural values,” it said.
WTOCWAC said the local community is “incredibly disheartened” at the Bathurst Regional Council's decision to proceed with the construction of the track at the proposed site.
The corporation expressed its intent to make an application for a declaration of Wahluu as an Aboriginal Place under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NSW).
This follows two applications the organisation has already made for declarations under section 10 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 in recent months.
A decision from the federal environment minister Sussan Ley on those applications is still pending.
A spokesperson for the Bathurst Regional Council told NITV News that an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment of the area had been undertaken and it "revealed a lack of archaeological evidence to support the historic use of the site".
”Investigations to date have not assessed the Mountain precinct as being rare or of research potential," it said.
"The site will have minimal noise impacts and it complements Mount Panorama’s racing history and future.
"It will also capitalise on Mount Panorama's reputation as the home of premiere Australian motorsports and events and will attract people from across the country and the world, boosting tourism and the local economy."