• Yaaran Couzens Bundle carried out ancient white ochre ritual (NITV)Source: NITV
Burning crosses and Hitler salutes in the Grampians are just one example of increasing extremist behaviour that authorities say could result in an imminent terrorist attack.
Douglas Smith, Karen Michelmore

The Point
4 May 2021 - 4:42 PM  UPDATED 4 May 2021 - 4:42 PM

It’s been more than three months since extremists brought their race hate to Yaraan Couzens-Bundle’s community at Gariwerd, or the Grampians, in regional Victoria.

She still feels unsettled by the incident, as she undertakes a cleansing ritual of white ochre to help heal and protect the sacred land.

Over the January 26 long weekend, a group of up to 30 balaclava-clad men gathered at the Gariwerd and chanted white power slogans while burning a cross.

The land, 230km north-west of Melbourne, is a centre of cultural and spiritual significance, and has been a gathering place for mob for millennia.

“This is our church, this is our sacred place,” says Ms Bundle, a Gunditjimara, Yuin and Bidjara woman who lives on Djab Wurrung country in Halls Gap.

“They came here deliberately to ruin that energy and mess with that sacredness.

“It was a really big shock.

“We could feel it all. From where we were, mob felt it in the city, mob felt (it) interstate.

"As a young single black mother, if they were still in town, I would not walk down the street by myself.”

Traditional Owners are critical that no action has been taken following the incident, which they say involved rocks being defaced by painted swastikas, illegal fires in the National Park, illegal camping, and the burning of a cross at the lake.

It comes as authorities warn of a growing number of young Australians being ensnared in racist, supremist and misogynistic ideologies.

ASIO director general Mike Burgess told a Senate inquiry last week, that such groups could attempt a terror attack in Australia in the next 12 months.

Djab Wurrung man and human rights lawyer Jidah Clark says legal reform is needed to curtail the activities of such groups.

“Authorities need to have more of a focus on these types of extremists,” he says.

“They're out there to incite hatred against other ethnic groups and must be stamped out as effectively as we can.

“I think there perhaps could be more done by Parks Victoria (to) manage this land.”

He says Traditional Owners are currently in discussions about the future management of the National Park.

“Part of the strategy moving forward could be around ensuring that there's a bit of monitoring happening and maybe be able to prevent or monitor when these groups arrive in town, and have a better response from police,” Mr Clark says.

Gunnai Kurnai man Troy McDonald is still shocked the group chose the sacred country to spread their race hate.

"It was a really tough thing for us to see that, when it was reported," he told NITV's The Point. 

"We've got 30 people up here, chanting hate narratives, doing Heil Hitler salutes and behaving in a manner which even though, through their own cowardice, they have to be masked up, because they don't want to be seen, indicates to me that they are thugs," Mr McDonald says.

“When is the broader Australian community going to stand up to this thuggery?” Mr McDonald asked.

“This hateful and brutal agenda which is intended to serve one purpose, and that is to implement an ideology that represents one particular world view around white supremacy.

“There needs to be more of a national combined voice to mitigate or eradicate these people’s agenda." 

Yaaran Couzens-Bundle issued a challenge to the haters.

“I challenge them to get educated and come one day and sit with us, and see if they can sit with us, because we walk in their world every day.

“This place is powerful, our blood is powerful and our connection to that country is powerful and it’s something they can never ever break.”