'OUR LAND': Kabi land rights claimant Wit-boooka shows hollows in the surface rock of the ridge, which he says his people used to grind seeds.
'OUR LAND': Kabi land rights claimant Wit-boooka shows hollows in the surface rock of the ridge, which he says his people used to grind seeds. Patrick Woods

Stop highway call over 'Gympie Pyramid' land rights claim

THE Bruce Highway bypass of Gympie would destroy an Aboriginal sacred site that is not legally owned by the Transport and Main Roads Department, it was claimed this week.

Aboriginal land rights activist Wit-boooka was recorded as pleading not guilty in Gympie Magistrates Court to a charge of trespassing on the increasingly legendary Rocky Ridge site on November 26.

Wit-boooka at wall-like rocky structures which some say shows terracing by past occupants of the site, now owned by the Transport and Main Roads Department and slated for the route of the Bruce Highway's Cooroy-to-Curra by-pass of Gympie.
Wit-boooka at wall-like rocky structures which some say shows terracing by past occupants of the site, now owned by the Transport and Main Roads Department and slated for the route of the Bruce Highway's Cooroy-to-Curra by-pass of Gympie. Patrick Woods

His representative told the court on Monday that Wit-boooka and his Kabi people owned the site, which had been recognised by early Australian governments as Aboriginal land.

She said it was now due to be bulldozed and excavated to make way for the planned new four-lane route for the Bruce Highway past Gympie.

Another view of what Aboriginal claimants say is the remains of a grain preparation and cooking area on Rocky Ridge.
Another view of what Aboriginal claimants say is the remains of a grain preparation and cooking area on Rocky Ridge. Patrick Woods

Also known as "the Gympie Pyramid,” the site, east of the railway line on the north side of Gympie Connection Rd, has been subject to many theories about claimed artificial origins.

Various legends have included claims it is a real pyramid, now overgrown but built by ancient visitors.

Another is that it is a terraced hillside developed by early Italian settlers.

DISPUTE: A sign warns visitors to the site that it is owned by the Kabi Kabi Aboriginal people and not, as officially determined, by the Transport and Main Roads Department.
DISPUTE: A sign warns visitors to the site that it is owned by the Kabi Kabi Aboriginal people and not, as officially determined, by the Transport and Main Roads Department. Patrick Woods

The representative told the court on Monday it was a sacred site.

In 2016, Wit-boooka showed The Gympie Times what appear to be artificial indentations in the terrace-like surface rock of the hill, indentations he said were used by his ancestors to grind seeds.

Magistrate Chris Callaghan accepted Wit-boooka's claim that he did not wish to be known by the name, Gary Roy Tomlinson, under which he was originally charged.

Mr Callaghan amended the charge to show the name Wit-boooka, of the Kabi tribe.

Mr Callaghan also accepted that the name had three "o”s in "boooka.”

Wit-boooka's representative called for a delay in the start of highway earthworks at Rocky Ridge, saying the prosecution had an obligation to prevent the destruction of relevant evidence.

This evidence was in the form of the existing surface of the ridge, including relics that the representative claimed proved ancient Aboriginal occupation and use of the site.

But Mr Callaghan said he did not have the power to make such an order, telling her she needed to take that matter up with the Minister for Transport Mark Bailey.

The representative also apologised to the court on behalf of Wit-boooka, saying he was concerned that his personal representations appeared to upset the court.

"He doesn't upset me,” Mr Callaghan said.

"I think we've reached the stage in our relationship where we can respect each other.”

Gympie Times


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