‘No tangible evidence of Aboriginal heritage’ at Pyramid
The State Government has insisted there is “no tangible evidence of Aboriginal cultural heritage” at the controversial Djaki Kundu site while a GoFundMe campaign to save it gains traction.
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Djaki Kundu, also known as the “Gympie Pyramid or Rocky Ridge”, has been a subject of ongoing conjecture in the 16 years since plans for the Section D Bruce Highway Cooroy to Curra upgrade began.
The GoFundMe campaign organised by Ms Diane Djaki Widjung says it aims to save Djaki Kundu from the construction of the Gympie Bypass, but the Department of Transport and Main Roads argues the campaign is “not associated with registered native title Traditional Owners group of the area”.
In a statement Department of Transport and Main Roads said “a large portion” of the site remains fenced off while the Bypass project goes ahead.
“We have carried out many studies and investigations at the Rocky Ridge site over the past 16 years, including cultural heritage surveys and surveys by the traditional owners whom we have worked closely with throughout,” a DTMR spokesperson said this week.
“No tangible evidence of Aboriginal cultural heritage has been found.
“Strategic planning for the Bruce Highway Cooroy to Curra upgrade started in 2004, including four years of extensive community consultation. The 62-kilometre new highway corridor was released in 2008.
“Further community and stakeholder consultation has been undertaken during the planning and design phases of Section D (C2CD).
“We have also consulted extensively with the registered native title claimants for the area, the Kabi Kabi First Nation Traditional Owner group, in accordance with the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003.
“This group has been nominated by the Kabi Kabi people to represent them.
“The Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) for C2CD has been endorsed by the Kabi Kabi First Nation Traditional Owner group and registered with the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships. It is also included on the Cultural Heritage Register for Queensland.”
The spokesperson said DTMR investigations and research into the site “found no cultural heritage artefacts”, but the Bypass designs were adjusted “in response to some community concerns to avoid the majority of the Rocky Ridge site”.
“That is a normal process by TMR on projects all over the state,” the spokesperson said.
“The final design for C2CD was released to the public in December 2019. It was sent to more than 22,000 residences and was on display in Gympie.
“Even though there has been no evidence of cultural heritage found at Rocky Ridge, a large portion of the site is fenced off so the area can be preserved during construction.”
The spokesperson said a Supreme Court injunction application filed by the Sovereign Native Tribes of the Kabi Kabi First Nation State “to prevent interference with the site” was made last November, but was unsuccessful.
“The land is freehold land owned by the State of Queensland,” the spokesperson said.
“A submission has been made to the federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment Heritage Branch. The submission is seeking federal protection of the site.
“We will continue to work closely with the contractors, the registered native title Traditional Owners for the area, and on-site cultural heritage monitors to ensure we exercise due diligence for site activities, and meet the cultural heritage duty of care under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003.
“TMR has responded to this submission and until the federal Minister for the Environment makes a determination on this submission, there will be no work undertaken at the Rocky Ridge site.”
The GoFundMe campaign has so far raised $18,663 of its $30,000 target, but the TMR spokesperson said it was “not associated with registered native title Traditional Owners group of the area” and it was unclear where the GoFundMe benefits were going.
A post on the GoFundMe page in late January claimed the Djaki Kundu site had been defaced, damaged and robbed in recent times.