Manataka American Indian Council
ENDANGERED SACRED SITES:
Bulahdelah ‘The Alum’ Mountain
An Australian Eden, Mecca and Manataka
By Elvina Jean Paulson
I belong to the Worimi Nation where my Great grandfather was tribal chief and his tribe known as Coomba Tribe. I am a direct descendant of the social division of Tobwabba (white clay) and my totems are the wallaby, whales and dolphins and the sea eagle otherwise known as the Corroboree Eagle.
I would like to inform you that we are also taking action to protect a Sacred Site under threat of being destroyed by major road works in the construction of a dual carriage way along the Pacific Highway and the beautiful east coast of New South Wales Australia.
Bulahdelah ‘The Alum’ Mountain is a sacred Rock which the Aboriginal Traditional Owners know as ‘Ngunangui’ meaning Sleeping Giant. I prayed to Ngunangui for the blessing to mention the name and in saying this name I speak in truth and act accordingly to honour and respect our sacred sites through Mother Nature teachings. It is in a similar predicament to that of Panhe sacred site of the Acjachemen Nation.
The battle by Aboriginal and non Aboriginal people to this day to stop the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) from moving closer to Ngunangui has been over a period of eleven years. RTA tell the public that Aboriginal community consultation has taken place and make out that everything is fine because they have spoken to Aboriginal people yet there are so many others who are dissatisfied with Option E the decision that RTA have taken with regard to the direction of the highway. It heads right in the direction of Ngunangui. The preferred Option A direction of the highway that the Aboriginal people wanted was cost effective and would have taken the highway right away from Ngunangui. We are still asserting our Aboriginal Culture with RTA on this front.
During all this time over the eleven years the major legislative body in National Parks responsible for the protection of our Aboriginal Culture in New South Wales has done nothing to stop or prevent the road works from coming closer to the Mountain. The Aboriginal People who were connected through the land to this sacred site had nominated the Mountain to be gazetted as an Aboriginal Place as it is the only Alum Mountain in Australia, has ochre grounds in close proximity to Bora grounds (ceremonial ground) healing springs, burial tree and a Guardian tree among other evidence of tribal occupation of the land. It is a Rock that has been mined and has rare and endangered species of orchid that flowers underground and historic significance which can be viewed on the walking trails that is if you dare go there whilst blasting continues to happen as the RTA move ever so much closer. No walking trails have been closed so there is liability involved with this also. Many Aborigines with Cultural belief say that bad luck will befall RTA if they carry out their plans to Option E.
National Parks was given a nomination for the gazettal of the Mountain as an Aboriginal Place in the early planning stages of the proposed highway. One ought to ask the question ‘Whether national parks acted quickly to gazette the Mountain as an Aboriginal Place on behalf of the wishes of the Aboriginal people? The answer is after eleven years the gazettal still has not been carried out as I write. National Parks have statutory responsible for our Aboriginal Culture and every year that they have not acted the RTA has come close to Ngunangui. In other words in all this time there was no action taken to prevent the continuing progress of the highway road works by national parks or the Aboriginal government body within the area where the Rock is located.
Though the paper work flows to raise concern our long term battlers of Aboriginal Culture have steadfastly remained in good faith for our sacred land and sites. After considering that these devotees deserved something ever so much more special a Sacred Day was nominated and set forth on the 31 May 2008. It was arranged to take control of our Aboriginal Culture and use this Sacred Day as a day to carry out the ‘Declaration of Bulahdelah ‘The Alum’ Mountain as an Aboriginal Place instead of waiting for the national parks to do what we already knew was true through our Aboriginal Culture. In doing this Declaration much relief was given to the dedicated Aboriginal and non Aboriginal peoples involved with the fight and the protest.
No doubt National Parks will be finding out that they are too slow with their paperwork to gazette and declare this area as an Aboriginal Place. One would love to be a fly on the wall at that time when they find out. Through our action and our Aboriginal Culture we have sought to do what they could not do under the very legislation which is there to protect our Aboriginal Culture. The Sacred Day delivered to those in attendance more than a government could have done. What it did do was to show that we should not be afraid to use our inherent rights as Aboriginal people. It also demonstrated that the land as we know it through our Aboriginal Culture has a sincerity and compassion that seldom would be found inside a statutory body professing they know best about our Aboriginal Culture.
We do not need written legislation to tell us how we should best direct our efforts to safeguard what is infinitely part of who we are by land people law and lore.
We give thanks to our Creator Biame for the courage and the grace each one showed on the Sacred Day and it had greatly unburdened many and left the battlers with less stress more happiness and peace of mind through an act of Aboriginal Culture. We may lose the battle but at the end of the day we have made greater progress than we had ever hoped to achieve. Now we continue to follow through with nominating a Sacred Day 1 September 2008 to meet and continue to bring to the Mountain a way of ‘teaching harmony throughout the land’ as only we of Mother Nature teachings have been taught.
We greatly appreciate the opportunity to share our Aboriginal Culture and to show how we are involved and activate our Dreaming into reality for those who shine so brightly with the light are bound to lead the way. We are here to deliver we have always been here to do exactly what women do best beside the men who respect and honour our intentions for our children for it is their future.
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