Aboriginal significance claim at The Blowholes

Headshot of Geoff Vivian
Geoff VivianMidwest Times
Shack owners found human bones at The Blowholes in Carnarvon.
Camera IconShack owners found human bones at The Blowholes in Carnarvon. Credit: Francesca Mann Midwest

A senior Aboriginal figure has called for a full heritage survey to be done at The Blowholes before the Shire of Carnarvon demolishes existing recreational shacks and redevelops the site.

“That place is pretty sacred, that’s where my old man and all my other families grew up,” Ben Roberts said.

“We came from inland and we made that place a home where we practised lore and corroboree.”

Mr Roberts’ comments came after human bones, including a skull, were found on the beach late last month near The Blowholes and a traditional burial ground registered under the Aboriginal Heritage Act.

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He said several sets of ancestral remains had been found in recent years as sand dunes gradually eroded.

Carnarvon Shire Council resolved last month to give shack owners 28 days notice the shacks would be demolished, but a spokesman for Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt said the Shire would have to be careful.

“Because of the proximity to the registered site, before they lift a finger on the demolition they have got to get approval under Section 18 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act,” he said. “They know it is a burial ground, it is already a registered site, so it is really up to the Shire to make sure it is maintained.”

He said the Department of Aboriginal Affairs would intervene if the site was threatened or found to be damaged.

Shire of Carnarvon chief executive David Burton said he was awaiting results of a police inquiry into the bones found on the beach.

“I am not sure of the exact location, so I cannot speculate the impact it will have on the shacks,” he said. “I know that bones have been found previously and these were found not to be of Aboriginal origin.”

Mr Roberts said any work on or near the Aboriginal site would need to be done with the same care a mining company had to take.

“They need to monitor that and make sure nothing gets crushed,” he said.

Mr Roberts said he had a good relationship with shack users.

The Blowholes, located 75km north of Carnarvon, are jets of sea water, sometimes 20 metres high, that has been forced through sea caves and narrow holes in the rocks by strong movements of the ocean.

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