The cultural site in Charlton, just off Holmes Rd.
The cultural site in Charlton, just off Holmes Rd. Charlotte Lam

Toowoomba bypass protesters take case to court

UPDATE: A court is preparing to deliberate on a stop work order for Toowoomba Second Range Crossing construction works that was submitted by an aboriginal group.

The Land Court will hear arguments regarding a stop work order which can be issued under Section 32 of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003.

The order can stop persons undertaking an activity that may harm "Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage".

Adrian Beattie, a member of the Western Wakka Wakka people and an authorised applicant claimant for what was formerly a native title area in the land where construction work is taking place, said he had served Nexus with an injunction today about 1pm.

A spokesman from the Land Court confirmed this morning that an originating application had been made to the court.

An urgent hearing is set to take place at 3pm today.

Aboriginal groups have been protesting at two sites on the $1.6 billion project's route.

They are concerned damage could occur to what they say are bora rings in Charlton and an ancient lookout at Murphy's Creek.

The application includes the two culturally-significant sites and the cutting through the Toowoomba Range.

"I've got issues with them cutting a hole through the Range, that was made in the dream time and is very important to us," Mr Beattie said.

He said before the hearing he was confident a ruling would be made in his favour.

"I think we've got a strong case."

EARLIER: An originating application has been filed by an aboriginal group in a bid to halt works on the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing amid fears they could damage culturally-sensitive sites.

The lodgement is the first step in an injunction process that could eventually lead to the Land Court halting works on the $1.6 billion project.

A general application is expected to be started today.

Protesters are continuing to block works at two sites on the project.

Some members of the Western Wakka Wakka Group are campaigning to save what they say are bora rings near Charlton.

A second group is protesting against possible damage to an alleged ancient lookout at Murphy's Creek.

The injunction is in regards to a cultural heritage management plan.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads has been contacted for comment.

EARLIER: Aboriginal groups concerned about possible damage to culturally-sensitive sites will continue to protest today.

Chris Conlon, a spokesman for some members of the Western Wakka Wakka people, said protesters would attend two Toowoomba Second Range Crossing work sites today.

His group is concerned that damage could occur to bora rings at Charlton during construction of the $1.6 billion project.

The rings are used in initiation ceremonies and have immense cultural significance to indigenous Australians.

Another group of aborigines is protesting at Murphys Creek, in the hope that an "ancient lookout" will be protected.

The Chronicle understands an injunction to stop work at both sites was lodged with the Land Court yesterday afternoon.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads is yet to elaborate on a statement released on Monday, which stated contractor Nexus was operating under a Cultural Heritage Management Agreement established under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management 2003 with the Western Wakka Wakka.

"If an injunction is filed, TMR and Nexus will follow the orders and undertake any necessary investigations," a representative said.

The existence of the bora rings and lookout is disputed, with the department claiming that investigations had not shown any evidence that the sites exist.



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