NSW Government buys Riverside Dr land where Aboriginal bones were found

BURIAL SITE: The NSW Government has paid $1.25 million for the Riverside Dr block where Aboriginal bones were found with a view to creating a cultural park
BURIAL SITE: The NSW Government has paid $1.25 million for the Riverside Dr block where Aboriginal bones were found with a view to creating a cultural park

It has been quite a ride for Terry Walker and Joanna Lockwood and the Riverside Dr property they bought in July 2017.

The couple's intention to build their dream home stalled dramatically in October that year with the discovery of what have since been identified as the bones of a young man (14-16 years) dating back some 620- 750 years.

"We never intended to build once the bones were found ... and we very quickly sat down with the Elders to talk," Terry said.

Trying to resolve the situation has taken 18 months and involved the Aboriginal community, Nambucca Shire Council and the State Government.

But resolved it has been - the State Government has purchased the land and the council will be responsible for its maintenance.

A spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment said the remains were of enormous significance to the local Aboriginal community.

"Further bones have been found on the riverside land, and it's possible the site may contain multiple burials, so it's vital that the NSW Government steps in to protect it," he said.

This land is an important part of the area's history and we want to ensure the local Aboriginal community is at the heart of future decisions for the site.

NSW Dept of Environment and Planning

"We have made the purchase under the Coastal Land Protection Scheme to preserve and manage the site's Aboriginal heritage and protect it for public access.

"We're working closely with the local Aboriginal community and Council to ensure proper management, and to protect the ancestral remains at this important site."

Gumbaynggirr Elder Gary Williams said it was a relief to see a conclusion reached.

"That's the first part - the next part is the planning for the park, where the bones will eventually be re-interred. They are being kept in a safe place until then," Gary said.

Terry and Joanna are also hugely relieved and thanked the Aboriginal community for their support.

"It took perseverance but we got there," Terry said. "Everyone has been very helpful, it has been a wonderful process in many ways.

"We would especially like to thank Trevor Ballangarry, Gary Williams, Buddy Marshall and Terry Donovan."

Terry said he hoped that something strikingly beautiful would be created on the site and he was honoured to remain in the process.

The sale price was $1.25 million.

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