Sacred Butterfly Cave safeguarded for future generations

The Minns Labor Government is protecting a sacred Aboriginal site, the Butterfly Cave, by acquiring an area of culturally significant bushland in the Hunter.

Five women standing together at the Butterfly Cave

This investment by the NSW Government delivers on Labor’s election promise to protect heritage places, including the Butterfly Cave, from threats.

The Butterfly Cave holds profound cultural significance for the Aboriginal community. The Cave, a rock overhang and surrounding bushland is a sacred Aboriginal women’s site used by generations of Aboriginal women for cultural practices and sacred women’s business.

The site is a safe place for Aboriginal women and children to meet and serves as an area for the education of young girls by female Elders.

After meeting with and listening to the voices of Aboriginal women, the Minns Labor Government is proud to be ensuring this site will be protected in-perpetuity, honouring the deep connections and ancestral knowledge of the Aboriginal people.

The acquisition is the result of a long campaign led by Aboriginal women and supported by members of the broader community to recognise and protect this sacred land.

The 25.74 ha plot, purchased by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service protects the Cave and the surrounding cultural landscape, including vital elements such as aquifers, traditional journey paths, creeks, stone arrangements and food source areas.

The land will be managed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and permanently protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

The NSW Government will consult with the local Aboriginal community on future management of the site and protection of the surrounding cultural landscape.

In 2013 the Butterfly Cave was declared an Aboriginal Place under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, which was supported by the landowner. In 2019 the Cave and its surrounds were recognised by the Australian Government as a significant Aboriginal Area.

Quote attributable to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage Penny Sharpe:

‘After a 13-year campaign, the Minns Labor Government is pleased to permanently protect the Butterfly Cave.

‘I want to thank the Aboriginal women who have never given up their care and protection of this important site so it can be used by generations to come.

‘The Butterfly Cave is a crucial meeting place for Aboriginal women to engage in traditional practices and share cultural knowledge with younger generations, and it is crucial it remains so for generations to come.’

Quote attributable to Member of Cessnock Clayton Barr:

‘The beautiful rich culture of our Aboriginal people is so important to protect.

‘These incredible women have been fighting for so long; they have met with so many Ministers of Government and Departmental workers that it’s hard to count; their courage and conviction never wavered.

‘The NSW Minns Government is finally doing what was always the ‘right’ thing to do, but hadn’t been done.’

Quote attributable to Margaret Harvey, Aboriginal Elder in the community:

‘This has been a long and painful fight for Aboriginal women. We thank the NSW Government for listening to us and respected us in allowing our voices to be heard.’

Quote attributable to Lyn Brown, Aboriginal role model in the community:

‘This is a significant moment for Aboriginal women and especially for women.’

‘The protection of the Butterfly Cave is a real and positive step towards reconciliation in NSW, and we thank the Minns Labor Government for hearing our voices, respecting our voices and working with us to protect our cultural heritage now and into the future.’

/Public Release. View in full here.