Indigenous elder’s fury as an entire mountain is deemed an Aboriginal ‘men only’ site – closing off access to important ancestral women’s areas
- Proposal to close public access to national park has divided Indigenous leaders
- Mount Warning National Park in far northern NSW, set to be closed for good
- Decision has been made out of respect to original Aboriginal custodians of land
- Indigenous elders fear they’ll be ‘dispossessed’ from sacred sites of ancestors
Controversial and ‘highly discriminatory’ plans to make a popular national park off limits to the public has sparked outrage from Indigenous leaders who fear they’ll be ‘dispossessed’ from the sacred sites of their ancestors.
The current closure of the Mount Warning hiking trail in far northern NSW could become permanent after the NSW government recently announced the national park’s future will be guided by its Aboriginal custodians.
Mount Warning, known by traditional owners as Wollumbin, attracted more than 127,000 visitors every year before the picturesque trail in the Tweed shire was shut down in March 2020.
The Wollumbin Consultative Group says the national park holds physical and spiritual importance to the community, particularly from the Bundjalung nation.
A proposed new management plan for the site has sparked an outcry and divided the local Indigenous community.
Local Indigenous elders claim the group appear to be extinguishing the ancestral women’s lore sites by claiming everything in the park as exclusively male and Bundjalung.
They also claim the Yoocum Yoocum and the Ngarakbal Githabul people were the original people, not the Bundjalung.
Elder Elizabeth Davis Boyd, the authorised representative of the Ngarakbal Githabul women, says the Wollumbin Consultative Group proposal has done great damage to her ancestral culture, tradition and lores
Mount Warning previously attracted thousands of tourists each year but has been off-limits for the last two-and-a half years
Elder Elizabeth Davis Boyd, the authorised representative of the Ngarakbal Githabul women, fears she and others will be denied access to their ancestral lore sites on the northern slope of Mount Warning.
Her late mother Marlene Boyd, who died in 2007, is recognised as the ‘Keeper of the Seven Sisters Creation Site’, one of the two women’s lore sites.
There’s also a memorial dedicated to her late mother on the Lyrebird Track at the base of the park.
‘Mount Warning and the closure process is being internationally reported as a Bundjalung men’s site,’ Ms Boyd said.
‘This is not correct and doing great damage to my ancestral culture, tradition and lores.
‘My ancestors were already here.
‘The Ngarakbal Githabul women have not been included in any of the consultative process in regards to the management or closure of Mount Warning.
‘The state government’s administrative decision to permanently close Mount Warning not only contravenes my customary law rights and women’s rights and human rights – but also my cultural responsibilities to the Gulgan memorial.’
Indigenous elders claim the group appear to be extinguishing ancestral women’s lore sites on Mount Warning
Yoocum Yoocum and Ngarakbal Githabul representatives have expressed their concerns to NSW Environment Minister James Griffin this week in a letter obtained by Daily Mail Australia.
‘The Bundjalung People are endorsing the ‘one tribe policy’ extinguishing the many tribes within the Yoocum Yoocum moiety who have not been given a voice in this matter,’ the letter states.
‘The Wollumbin Consultative Group has discriminated against the women and our lores.
‘The Wollumbin Consultative Group has sought to exterminate the Matristic Grandmother Rainbow Serpent and Seven Sisters Lore Traditions of my moiety. The oldest continuous culture on earth.’
Wollumbin National Park has been closed since March 2020 due to Covid-19, public safety risks due to recent floods and further consultation with the Aboriginal community.
Indigenous leaders fear they’ll be ‘dispossessed’ from the women’s sacred sites of their ancestors on Mount Warning
Wollumbin Consultative Group said the site held both physical and spiritual importance to the community.
‘Wollumbin is interconnected to a broader cultural and spiritual landscape that includes creation, dreaming stories and men’s initiation sites of deep antiquity,’ the group stated last month.
‘Bundjalung beliefs illustrate the spiritual values embodied and evoked in Wollumbin and its connections to a broader cultural landscape.
‘These connections are important to the spiritual identity of the Bundjalung nation, many other nations and families connected to Wollumbin, predominantly men and also women’.
Aboriginal affairs and tourism minister Ben Franklin added the decision reflected the importance of the site to Aboriginal people of the far north coast.
The Wollumbin National Park track to Mt Warning-Wollumbin has been closed since March 2020 due to Covid-19, public safety risks due to recent floods and further consultation with the Aboriginal community