Elders want to have a say

Callum HunterSouth Western Times
Greater Bunbury Aboriginal Community Elders Group spokesman Dennis Jetta.
Camera IconGreater Bunbury Aboriginal Community Elders Group spokesman Dennis Jetta. Credit: South Western Times

Aboriginal elder Dennis Jetta has spoken out about his disappointment in Main Roads for not consulting local elders during the heritage surveys of the proposed Bunbury Outer Ring Road route.

A spokesman for the Greater Bunbury Aboriginal Community Elders Group, Mr Jetta said neither he nor any other members of the group was consulted or even approached by Main Roads about the project.

“I don’t think they (Main Roads) know that that area is very significant to us as Aboriginal people,” he said. “We were elected by the Greater Bunbury Aboriginal community in 2004 as the local elders to look after this sort of stuff.

“We were very disappointed that nobody approached us at all.”

According to Mr Jetta and Gelorup residents Terri Sharp and Kieran Noonan, the elders Main Roads consulted were not local to the Bunbury area and came from as far as Williams and Narrogin.

The proposed route will go through an area of bushland containing six Aboriginal scar trees, Australia’s biggest paperbark and tuart trees and the Five Mile Brook, a waterway Mr Jetta said would have been used as a birthing area for Aboriginal women.

A message stick traced to the eastern Goldfields was also found in the area, less than 20m from the giant paperbark tree.

Perhaps most significantly of all, Mr Jetta said he believed the area to be linked to the 1841 Wardandi Massacre, when John Molloy ruthlessly hunted down and killed Aboriginal men throughout the area.

“This place is significant,” Mr Jetta said.

“We’d be willing to sit down and talk with Main Roads if they’re willing to talk with us.”

Main Roads could not be reached for comment.

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