Statement - Aboriginal Cultural Heritage and proposed go kart track

Aboriginal Cultural Heritage and the Proposed Go Kart Track at McPhillamy Park Mount Panorama

History/Background

· Council has worked closely with the Aboriginal community in preparing an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment for the proposed Go Kart track development.

· The proposed Go Kart track development includes the track, pit lane, carpark and paddock area. The track will be located to the southern extent of McPhillamy Park.

· The original Development Application (DA) was submitted by the Bathurst Go Kart Club for a 950m go kart track, and was approved by Council on 28 September 2015.

· An application to modify the development consent was submitted by Council on behalf of the Go Kart Club, and was approved by Council in December 2018.

· The application to modify the development consent was made to extend the track to 1100m to make it an international standard track.

· Prior to considering the application to modify the development consent Council engaged Extent Heritage to prepare an Aboriginal Due Diligence report followed by an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment Report (ACHAR) for the proposed development (see below for more information).

· Current statusCouncil has commenced preliminary works on site, including demolition of the existing 1980s house and removal of redundant communications infrastructure.

Aboriginal Cultural Due Diligence

· A due diligence assessment (to determine if harm is likely to be caused to an Aboriginal object) was undertaken in respect of the original development application.

· Further due diligence was undertaken when the application to modify the development application was lodged.

· The due diligence report for the modified development application found that since the original Development Application (DA) was lodged and approved, four additional sites had been registered on the Aboriginal Heritage Information Management System (AHIMS) database by the Wiradyuri Traditional Owners group. Two of these sites are located within and around the subject area of the Go Kart Track development.

The due diligence report concluded that:

· The proposed development will be a high impact activity.

· There are two registered sites in the subject area, and as such an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit (AHIP) approval may be required if relics are found.

· No objects/relics had been identified to date and it is likely that there is low potential for sub-surface archaeological deposits.

· Consultation with Aboriginal communities have identified that the land has significant intangible cultural heritage values to the Aboriginal community.

· There is significant opposition from the Wiradyuri Traditional Owners group for the development to proceed.

· There is support from the Bathurst Local Aboriginal Lands Council for the development to proceed.

Council staff then met with representatives of the Wiradyuri Traditional Owners Central West Aboriginal Corporation and the Bathurst Local Aboriginal Lands Council on 7 March 2017. Extent Heritage was engaged to help facilitate discussions with both parties.

In summary those meetings reiterated:

· The opposition from the Wiradyuri Traditional Owners group for the development to proceed.

· The support from the Bathurst Local Aboriginal Land Council for the development to proceed.

The meetings also highlighted the need for Council to more accurately document the values, places and features of the Mount Panorama precinct that are of cultural significance as a means to develop a cultural heritage management plan for the entire Mountain to inform operational activities.

As a result, Council further engaged Extent Heritage to:

· Proceed with an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment (ACHA) to determine if an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit (AHIP) application was needed with respect specifically to the application for modification for the Go Kart Track development.

· Undertake anthropological investigations to verify the claims of significance being made in relation to Mount Panorama.

Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment of the Go Kart Track Modification

· The Assessment was prepared in accordance with NSW Office and Environment Guidelines. The key aim of the ACHA is to confirm the presence or absence of Aboriginal objects, as defined by the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

· Aboriginal consultation was undertaken in accordance with the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Consultation Requirements for Proponents (DECCW 2010).

· The Registered Aboriginal Partkes (RAPs) for the project were: Bathurst Local Aboriginal Land Council, Dhuuluu-yala Enterprises, Wiradyuri Traditional Owners Central West Aboriginal Corporation, Bathurst Wiradyuri and Aboriginal Community Elders, Warrabinga Native Title Claimants Aboriginal Corporation, Mooka, and Murra Bidgee Mullangari Aboriginal Corporation.

· Four of the RAPs were engaged to participate in the archaeological survey: Bathurst Local Aboriginal Land Council, Dhuuluu-yala Enterprises, Wiradyuri Traditional Owners Central West Aboriginal Corporation, and Bathurst Wiradyuri and Aboriginal Community Elders.

· The ACHA was also informed by the separate anthropological assessment undertaken for Council by Professor David Trigger and Dr Gaynor Macdonald, with assistance from Extent Heritage, which included ethno-historical research and interviews with key informants and knowledge holders who speak for Bathurst Wiradjuri country.

· Council separately engaged arborists, Agile Arbor, to investigate a number of scar and forked trees within the study area. The arborist report was consolidated into the ACHA.

Key Findings

The key findings of the ACHA were as follows.

· The study area contains five registered Aboriginal sites. None of the five registered sites were found to contain Aboriginal objects as defined by the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974:

· The ACHA concluded that the study area has a nil-low potential to contain buried sub-surface archaeological deposits.

· No Aboriginal objects as defined by the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 have been identified within the proposed Go Kart Track development area. The subject land does not currently form part of a gazetted Aboriginal Place.

· The proposed development does not currently require approval of an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit (AHIP) and development may proceed with caution

The key findings of the anthropological investigations were as follows:

· The anthropological study found that parts of the Mountain have intangible cultural heritage values to the local Aboriginal community.

· Mt Panorama Wahluu has contemporary cultural values to the local Aboriginal community due to these traditional associations, and also as part of a movement of cultural revitalisation and reconnection currently underway across Wiradjuri country.

Declaration of Mount Panorama – State Government

· The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) has received a nomination for the declaration of Mount Panorama (or parts thereof) as an Aboriginal Place under the National Parks and Wildlife Act.

· It is also understood that OEH is considering whether a celebratory declaration either as an Aboriginal Place or State Heritage Listing under the NSW Heritage Act is a more appropriate approach than a declaration/listing that would control the use of land and/or warrant additional approval processes.

Heritage Protection Application under Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection (ATSIHP) Act 1984, Mount Panorama, Bathurst (Federal)

· Council has received advice from the Federal Department of Environment and Energy that it has received applications (section 9 - emergency protection and section 10 longer term protection) to protect parts of Mount Panorama.

· Both declarations can be made where it is considered to be an area that is a significant Aboriginal area and is under threat.

· No such declaration has yet been made by the Federal Government.

Conclusion

· Council has worked closely with the Aboriginal community in preparing an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment for the proposed Go Kart track development.

· The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment for the Go Kart track development has found that no Aboriginal objects as defined by the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 have been identified within the works area for the proposed Go Kart track development.

· The proposed development does not currently require approval of an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit (AHIP) and development may proceed with caution.

· Preliminary works have commenced on site including demolition of the 1980s house and redundant communications infrastructure.

· The Go Kart track will be an international attraction for Bathurst by capitalising on Mount Panorama’s fame. It will be the first international go kart track in NSW.

· Council is aware that there have been applications lodged with the State and Federal Governments for protection of the Mountain in terms of Aboriginal Cultural heritage. No State or Federal Declaration has been made in relation to the Aboriginal significance of Mount Panorama.

· Council has prepared a detailed report on a range of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Matters. A full copy of that report can be accessed via Council's Business Paper 15 May 2019.

See full report - page 29.

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