Sacred burial sites need protection

Tayler NealeAlbany Advertiser

An Aboriginal family is hopeful that a sacred burial site near Jerramungup can receive the restoration and protection it needs to survive after a recent meeting with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the Shire of Jerramungup.

Trevor Walley believes his ancestor, Winmar, is buried under a tree on the embankment of the Gairdner River, east of Jerramungup, and is worried the site may be destroyed by rising water levels and soil erosion.

Tree carvings are considered markers for sites of special significance within Aboriginal culture and Mr Walley, along with other family members, reference a notch in the tree as evidence of the site.

Mr Walley says a ground probe is needed to clarify the exact whereabouts of the burial site.

“You can’t go around in circles and wasting everyone’s time — you need scientific evidence,” he said.

The recent flooding in the Great Southern has further increased the chance of destruction, according to Mr Walley.

“It’s so urgent, all the rainfall and flooding we had could have destroyed it — it’s the only remaining marker and it’s going to be washed away,” he said.

Mr Walley also cites the book My Dusky Friends, written by Ethel Hassell in the 1880s, as proof of the burial site.

A DAA spokesman said the area was listed as an Aboriginal heritage site.

“The Wangup Road Burial was registered as a site in 1996, and DAA has continued to protect and monitor the site since its registration,” he said.

“DAA staff have audited this site four times in the past 18 months.

“We continue to work with stakeholders and the local Aboriginal community on how we can continue to protect the area.”

Shire of Jerramungup chief executive Brent Bailey said the Shire would work together with the relevant stakeholders.

“The Shire is looking forward to working with the DAA and local Aboriginal groups to provide input to the development of a management plan for the area.”

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