Newcastle Council will work with the Worimi Land Council to develop a management plan for an Indigenous Heritage site put at risk by emergency works at Stockton.

A number of cabins were relocated from Stockton Caravan Park to Rawson Park near Stockton Pool, due to recent coastal erosion risks – but members of the Worimi community say they were not initially consulted regarding the works.

Worimi Land Council CEO Andrew Smith says the council’s lack of initial communication meant the local community couldn’t inform them of the site’s cultural significance.

“The problem is, with the augering that they’ve drilled down to put in the pits, they’ve actually gone through the remnant soil, and they’ve exposed a lot of occupational evidence and Aboriginal artefacts, objects, and items that are significant and need to be protected,” he said.

The cabins are currently relocated atop an Aboriginal midden site – a type of occupation site where people left the remains of meals and other domestic waste.

Smith says artifacts such as stones, foreign materials, fish bones and shells have archaeological significance and indicate the relationships between different Indigenous groups.

“They’re important to us, and it’s not a renewable resource. We don’t have sandstone buildings sitting in the middle of the street that people can stare at and admire.”

“Most of our above surface occupational evidence has been destroyed, and we need to make sure that we as all Australians protect what lays that cultural footprint that sits beneath the many tenures in today’s environment.”

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes says discussions with both Mr Smith and local elder Len Anderson regarding the future of the site have been positive and productive.

“We want to make sure that although Stockton is a natural disaster zone and emergency works have taken place, that they are only done in recognition of this being an Aboriginal place and that any artefacts found are protected and our cultural heritage is preserved.”

Newcastle Council will be allowed to anchor the cabins down to manage safety risks in windy weather until they receive approval from Ausgrid regarding power line issues and affected parties reach a resolution regarding the cabins’ relocation.

Image credit: Save Stockton Beach