Aboriginal artefacts unearthed at Lake Wyangan

Friday, 7 August 2020

Griffith City Council and the Griffith Local Aboriginal Land Council (GLALC) wish to advise Aboriginal artefacts have been unearthed at Lake Wyangan.

The artefacts were uncovered in soil located near the Lake’s shoreline in late May 2020.

At the time, representatives from the NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Primary Industries (DPI) investigated the fish deaths at Lake Wyangan and gave Council staff approval to undertake clean-up work.

While carrying out this work, soft soil and damp conditions on the eastern side of the Lake hampered access, with Council staff grading a track adjacent to the eastern shoreline. During this process, concern was raised that the track may have disturbed existing Aboriginal artefacts.

Griffith City Council immediately engaged consultants including GLALC to survey the track and confirmed the presence of artefacts.

As a consequence, remediation work must now be carried out to return the track to its previous condition.

Applications for Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permits (AHIP) are being prepared. This process will include survey work to understand the heritage significance of the artefacts and will be required for the road rehabilitation and prior to the construction of planned wetlands and sedimentation traps at Lake Wyangan.

Griffith Mayor, Councillor John Dal Broi acknowledged the importance of the discovery for the Aboriginal community and the history of Griffith. “The utmost care is being taken to ensure all Aboriginal artefacts found at the site are handled respectfully. It means that work on the sedimentation traps and wetlands will be postponed, but this is unavoidable.”

“Council is working closely with Griffith Local Aboriginal Land Council on this matter,” Councillor Dal Broi said. “I have invited the Chair of GLALC Ms Vickie Simpson and CEO Mr Stephen Young to become permanent members of the Lake Wyangan Catchment Management Committee and it’s great that they have both agreed to contribute to solutions for the Lake through this forum.”

Ms Simpson has welcomed the opportunity to work closely with Council on the Lake Wyangan Project. “While I am disappointed that the Aboriginal artefacts were disturbed, these will be reinstated in an appropriate location at the Lake under guidance of the GLALC. The CEO and I are pleased to participate as members of the Lake Wyangan Committee and provide input to development of the site respecting over 40,000 years of Wiradjuri culture.”

Council’s Lake Wyangan Catchment Management Committee met on Tuesday 4 August in conjunction with GLALC to consider a way forward to progress the future development of water quality and improvements to infrastructure and indigenous recognition.

The Mayor has also welcomed Mr Mathew Ryan as a member of the Lake Wyangan Committee. “Mat is a Director of Aquna Sustainable Murray Cod, a locally based and multi award winning business enterprise. Mat will bring a wealth of knowledge to the Committee especially in the area of native fish habitat and breeding,” said Cr Dal Broi.

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