Tuesday, December 12, 2023

National Park campground set to ‘scar sacred waters’

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A young Githabul woman with tears in her eyes stands above Tooloom Falls at Urbenville. She describes how the establishment of a campground at the site will impact her and her mob.

Toolum Falls
This is sacred: Githabul man John Williams at Tooloom Falls at Urbenville.
Photo: Susanna Freymark.

Jemimah Williams, 16, said the Githabul site was “part of all of us and the flowing waters bring life”.

“We feel the pain when (the site) is disturbed,” Jemimah said.

“I feel it with my spirit and my spirit is screaming out.”

Her grandmother Gloria Williams said they had been told the Githabul Nation Aboriginal Corporation had given approval for National Parks to place a permanent caravan and camping area at the falls.

She said this was without any “proper dialogue or proper permission given by members”.

“Our decisions on this place should be based on lore,” Gloria said.

She explained the significance of the site to the Githabul people.

“This is the beginning of the Clarence. This is our Dooloomi creation story and the beginning of the rivers. Stop destroying it, it is greed over dollars. It has to stop.”

What she sees as the desecration of the site will affect tribal people all the way to Yaegl country, she said.

“Would you put a caravan park in a cathedral?”

Her daughter Jennifer Williams said Tooloom Falls was “living waters”.

“Our people have declared this a sacred site,” she said.

“They (National Parks) are saying it is okay to disturb this place. This is insanity.”

Jennifer said the site needed to rest in a proper way, especially since the recent canoeing deaths of a man and a woman at Tooloom.

Rob Williams said no notification had been sent from Githabul Nation Aboriginal Corporation.

“The board has no right to make a decision without proper dialogue and consultation with the tribe,” he said. “We want no camping. That’s the bottom line.”

Please explain decision making

We attempted to find out about the decision-making process on a possible permanent camping ground at Tooloom Falls.

Camping sign
Camping is planned for the site.
Photo: Susanna Freymark.

Despite multiple attempts to contact the Githabul Nation Aboriginal Corporation, no response was received.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service responded that it has: sought the guidance of the appointed directors of the Githabul Nation Aboriginal Corporation and the Githabul National Parks Management Committee on the future management of the Bandahngan Aboriginal Area.

At the request of GNAC, NPWS is investigating options to create a campground at this location. NPWS is currently undertaking the required planning assessments, including an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment and Review
of Environmental Factors. No work will begin until all assessments and reviews are completed.

However investigating options does not explain the sign on the gate and other indications of development activity at the site. Nor does No work will begin until

Richmond River Independent 19 May 2021

This article appeared in the Richmond River Independent, 19 May 2021.


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