Sacred Indigenous site recognised in heritage listing

A significant Aboriginal site on the NSW mid-north coast has been listed on the State Heritage Register in recognition of its cultural and spiritual importance to the Garby Elders of the Gumbaynggirr people.

Low walls made of stones forming enclosures in shallow water on a beach which are the Arrawarra stone fish traps

Minister for Heritage James Griffin said the Arrawarra Headland and Stone Fish Traps near Coffs Harbour have been an important meeting place for more than a thousand years.

‘The Arrawarra Headland and Stone Fish Traps are a remarkable example of a spiritual and cultural landscape, and they hold great significance for the Gumbaynggirr people,’ Mr Griffin said.

‘There are few surviving fish traps found in New South Wales that are in such good condition, and this listing on the State Heritage Register means the site is now further protected.’

Garby Elder Uncle Tony Dootson said it was important for the site to be listed to ensure the Arrawarra Headland and Stone Fish Traps continue to be celebrated and conserved for future generations.

‘This place is very important to our people, the Garby, not just for food but also for teaching our younger ones about their culture,’ Mr Dootson said.

Arrawarra has been a significant meeting place for more than a thousand years, central to cultural exchange with neighbouring groups. The name Arrawarra comes from the Gumbaynggirr words ‘Yee Warra’, meaning meeting place.

The lands of the Gumbaynggirr were so rich in resources, they were renowned for sharing with other nations. When food was plentiful, neighbouring groups were invited to feast and gatherings were held for ceremonial meetings.

Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh said Arrawarra Headland, including the stone fish traps, the rock platform and nearby landscape features, continue to be used for cultural activities such as gatherings, storytelling and collecting resources.

‘The headland is also recognised by Aboriginal people of the area as a significant men’s rainmaking site,’ Mr Singh said.

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