A tree felled this morning at Agnes Water. Indigenous locals say the trees are on a sacred site and they weren't consulted.
A tree felled this morning at Agnes Water. Indigenous locals say the trees are on a sacred site and they weren't consulted.

Sacred site: Traditional owners furious at tree destruction

UPDATE: 12.00pm July 30. GLADSTONE Regional Council has responded to media enquiries about trees being felled yesterday on a Agnes Water site that is claimed to be sacred by local indigenous people on Springs Road.

A council spokesman said GRC has no links to the land or work being done.

"Tree felling works taking place on Springs Road at Agnes Water were not undertaken by Gladstone Regional Council, or a council-contracted company," the spokesman said.

"The land in question is not owned or managed by Gladstone Regional Council."

The Gladstone Observer is pursuing the issue and is attempting to contact the landowner and contractor involved.

More to come.

INITIAL REPORT: 1.30pm July 29: THE Indigenous community of Agnes Water are furious after trees were felled on a sacred site by council contractors, without any advice of the work, or consultation, they claim.

Elder Ron Newley, who grew up in Cape York country but has called Agnes Water home for years, said he was having breakfast when he heard the chainsaws start this morning.

Immediately he thought of the sacred site where elders used to make canoes out of trees on Springs Road and when he saw that was the location, he started to cry.

"There has been no public consultation or no information given to us about this," he said.

"This is very sacred land to the elders who used to make canoes out of trees in that area."

The Goreng Goreng area stretches from Baffle Creek to Agnes Water, and was settled by the Meeroni people tens-of-thousands of years-ago.

Mr Newley said there was thousands of years of proud tradition and culture in the area, all associated with the site on Springs Road where the trees are being felled.

"I watched them chop down a huge tree that was at least 90 feet tall and it brought tears to my eyes," Mr Newley said.

"I couldn't watch it anymore, so I came home so upset."

 

A tree felled at Agnes Water. Indigenous locals say the trees are on a sacred site and they weren't consulted.
A tree felled at Agnes Water. Indigenous locals say the trees are on a sacred site and they weren't consulted.

 

When Cherissma Blackman-Costelloe arrived to visit her uncle Ron this morning, she instantly knew there was something wrong.

"He was so upset and he said they are cutting the trees down on the sacred site opposite the police station," she said.

"I got married on that site last year because of the significance to our people and our culture.

"Our descendants used that area as a sacred site, they made canoes out of the trees in that area just back from where these trees were cut down this morning."

She marched straight out of her uncle's door, across to the site and asked to speak to the boss, who told her they had been engaged by Gladstone Regional Council.

"I told them they have to stop, this is sacred land and there are laws protecting this," she said.

"He (the contractor) got on the phone and called someone, but it hasn't stopped.

"They have cut down at least three beautiful trees now that were more than 100 years old.

"This sort of destruction is not allowed to happen, there are laws against this.

"The local Indigenous committee haven't heard anything and everyone is furious."

READ MORE: Daily 16-page digital edition to feature major stories

Mrs Blackman-Costelloe said she immediately tried to ring Mayor Matt Burnett, and councillors Darryl Branthwaite and Chris Trevor, to get the work stopped, without success.

"No one has got back to me, so I just sent Darryl some photos," she said.

"It's not urgent to them and this mob are still here cutting down the trees.

"This is Meeroni country here and these people won't stand for this."

Gladstone Regional Council were contacted for comment at 12.38pm.



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