Does Lismore have its own Uluru?

Bundjalung elder Mickey Ryan in the area of the plateau where rockwalls are located. (Darren Coyne)

Bundjalung elder Mickey Ryan in the area of the plateau where rockwalls are located. (Darren Coyne)

By Darren Coyne

Archeologists investigating ancient stonewalls and other sites on the North Lismore Plateau believe the area could be as culturally significant as Uluru.

Led by Bundjalung elder Mickey Ryan, the archeologists from Tocomwall Pty Ltd visited the plateau yesterday as part of a survey of the area’s cultural landscape.

Mr Ryan has been leading the fight to stop a 1500 dwelling development proposed by the Lismore City Council and local landowners.

The council has rezoned the plateau for residential development and has said that development applications would be lodged before the end of the year.

A section of the rockwalls which archeologists believe pre-date European contact. (Darren Coyne)

A section of the rockwalls which archeologists believe pre-date European contact. (Darren Coyne)

But Scott Franks, managing director of Tocomwall, an Aboriginal cultural heritage consultancy firm that provides archeological, ecological and cultural heritage services across Australia, yesterday told Echonetdaily that such a development would be desecration.

‘I believe it’s as significant as Uluru. I’ve never seen anything like this and I grew up with my old people walking the country. I’ve been in the army and all over Australia and I’ve never seen anything like it … especially not in New South Wales,’ Mr Franks said.

‘I believe it’s highly significant and the council should be turning their minds to ways to protect this. If this area is cleaned up and managed properly, and the right protocols are put in place with the right knowledge holders, I think it could be an unbelievable teaching area for archeology, and also for tourism.’

‘The council needs to get with it and understand what they’ve got here but it seems they haven’t got a clue.’

Tocomwall’s senior archeologist Jakub Czastka, who trained at the Institute of Archeology in London, said the site should be properly surveyed and protected.

‘What I’ve seen up there in terms of the wall alignments and the features most certainly do not conform to European or post-contact practice,’ he said.

Mr Czastka dismissed a previous theory that the stonewalls could have been Chinese market gardens.

‘They are located at the top of a slope and there is no soil build-up behind the walls. If they were gardens they would have been built further down the slope to contain soil,’ he said.

‘The only interpretation you can put on those stone alignments, even though we saw only a small section of them, is that they were established pre-contact, and would have been built over hundreds, if not thousands of years.’

‘I have no doubt in my mind that they are Indigenous, and looking at the location and the size, I would suggest there have been some very, very serious ceremonies occurring up there.’

‘And from what Mick (Mr Ryan), the local informant, has told us, it’s just one spoke in a much larger wheel of the cultural landscape.’

Archeologists examine what they say are granite rocks which have been used to sharpen tools or weapons. (Darren Coyne)

Archeologists examine what they say are granite rocks which have been used to sharpen tools or weapons. (Darren Coyne)

During their visit to the plateau yesterday, the archeologists also found evidence of where Aboriginal people had used the granite rocks to sharpen tools.

The archeologists also identified what they believed was a burial site, however further investigations would be required to confirm their theory.

Meanwhile, Mr Ryan said the advice from the archeologists confirmed what he had been telling the council for a long time … that the plateau was highly significant to Aboriginal people and should be protected.

Mr Ryan has vowed to fight any plans to develop housing on the plateau, and has the support of the Bundjalung Council of Elders.

18 responses to “Does Lismore have its own Uluru?”

  1. Julie Allen says:

    And you are not alone with your most important mission to stop the desecration of this Sacred Land from the destructive elements of mankind wanting to place a whole new suburb there.

    Such a fantastic article should be shared “for all the world to see” as the Late Fred Hollows would say. We need to Protect the area here on and around North Lismore Plateau.
    In support of Protecting the Worlds oldest continuing Ancient Culture and the endangered plants and fauna that dwell there.
    Julie Allen.

  2. al oshlack says:

    Amazing that Lismore has one of the most significant Aboriginal heritage sites in Australia,

    Every ratepayer should be joyful as they do not have to pay the NLP developers infrastructure with a 24 million dollar loan, (apparently a quarter of the current debt) to desecrate it.

    Our new Council should cut the losses while it can as there is no way now that the NLP housing can proceed.

    Well done Mickey, we are all proud of your courage and perserverance to get the truth out, what you have achieved is almost without precedence

  3. doug says:

    I will fight beside them.

  4. P.A.Ogilvie says:

    I’m sure you will have support from all over OZ to protect & manage this important site.

  5. David. says:

    Its not just the stones themselves, but the women who used to camp here who were the keepers of the Global Sky Lore which is most significant, of which most people have the slightest inkling in this Dark Age. This sacred thread runs thru all our Western and Eastern Traditions, back before we had tv. lol. Which most dont realise never existed, as well as their internet and their maccas, let alone what the Pleiades or Great Bear signify in the most advanced global spiritual traditions of which this was definitely very prominent. The generally learned position of thinking people is that Australia and this place here particularly was exporting culture across the globe according to old texts since long before Europe or any Western civilisation even existed. This means that this was a place of power and seat of governance for the Eastern Wanjina. What it means is you are actually destroying the oldest remnants of YOUR OWN CULTURE! ahahaha. laughable yet tragic. U probably dont know what that means, but if u dont want to feel like a completely backward neanderthal u probably should. I personally wouldnt want to have under my name that I desecrated and destroyed a world heritage cultural seat of wisdom no less important than the Egyptian pyramids the Greek Acropolis, or the sacred temples of Vedic India. And I am sure sleepy old Lismore is quite oblivious that is sitting on the grounds of a High culture site of global significance. Hahaha! Thanks for the Fluoride Jenny mate, cheers and thanks also for the completete and total denial of culture and history, not only indigenous, but also the local alternative culture which has put this place on the map- which u so cavalierly also disrespected and undermined in your backward arrogant snobbery.

    • peter brush says:

      David, good thoughts, hang in there, your frustrations are understood by many more than you probably think. there is no doubt a reason that this whole area has become a modern day mecca for those seeking ‘spiritual succour’. great spiritual places right around the world, persist, society to society!, culture to culture. Right around the world there is a long history of places of great spiritual significance being focal points for the spirit again and again and again. Australia’s first people have been here continuously for longer than anywhere else in the world. this is incredibly significant in itself. but what is becoming more apparent is that the society was highly evolved, it had to be to be functional for probably 60000 years. We white people have been at it here for 200 years and we have virtually destroyed the place. the rest of the world has a lot to learn too, hopefully we will, before we destroy it all. Most importantly, too much damage has been done to cultural sites across Australia already! before any more damage is done here, this place needs to be fully and throughly investigated both archeologically and culturally!Lismore council this could be far far more valuable in so many ways, than a few home sites!

  6. Deborah Green says:

    How wonderful!
    I hope the plateau will be protected, and, if Bundjalung elders want, investigated

  7. turtle says:

    Should be a “no-brainer” now for Lismore Council to stop development.

  8. Mickey Ryan says:

    Let all of us come together too protect the North Lismore Plateau such a significant Aboriginal site

    We need to stop any development for the education of all Australians to enjoy and learn of our Heritage and culture

    Much love and respect to all

  9. Peter Brush says:

    wow, this is at the very least incredibly intriguing and needs to properly investigated before any damage is done! personally i want to find out more about it. Until it is fully understood there must be no action taken that would damage the site in my opinion. how do I help?

  10. Beki davoes says:

    This is something special. Lismore city council needs to stop and listen to the experts and preserve this peice of cultural heritage. I hope there will be a petition to stop the development proposal from going ahead. We as a community need to get behind this and make some noise!!!

  11. Mary Lou says:

    Yes this must be protected not destroyed like the wind song caves at Fingal Head. Where the Tribes used to gather on Dreamtime beach, those caves were blown up to use the rocks for the Tweed river walls. It would have been a most magical place to visit and hear the wind make music, in caves on the beach. So lets not let history repeat and protect this significant discovery at all costs.

  12. Shane Adams says:

    Did Vanessa Ekins vote for this rezoning/ development?

  13. Shane Adams says:

    Did Vanessa Ekins vote for this rezoning/development?

  14. Julie says:

    We established the North Lismore Plateau Protection Association Inc – under the umbrella of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW (NCC) – if you are interested to join and support.
    We are preparing for further action if Lismore City Council continues on their plans for this future housing development upon this most Sacred Site here in North Lismore.
    Keep your interest in this..and if necessary be prepared for action.

  15. Dr George Davidson says:

    Count me in to help where I can, this is an important precolonial site, it needs protection

  16. Neil Owen says:

    Isn’t it ironic that some of these comments are made by the same ones who went out of their way to avoid helping out in this campaign, even as far as to attempt to undermine & sabotage our good efforts at every turn? NOW that the hard yards have been done, everyone else wants to jump on the band wagon? I know who they are & will NEVER forget their ill speaking attitudes towards this campaign. As for Uncle Micky Ryan, Julie Allen, Aunty Marie Dulbridge & others who gave a damn enough to help out, congratulations & thankyou for your support. The johnny come latelys I view with suspicion until their feeble words become helpful actions, if you will not be part of the solution, you are obviously part of the problem & are no longer welcome anywhere near me.

  17. Susan Stock says:

    I hope that Lismore councillors will listen and wait until all the archaeological reports come in. Otherwise it is racist sacrilege. They cannot keep making decisions guided by the ‘jobs and growth’ ideology. Wow I think this is a very exciting development. Good on you Mickey and other Bundjalung people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Become a supporter of The Echo

A note from the editorial team

Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

The Echo has never underestimated the intelligence and passion of its readers. In a world of corporate banality and predictability, The Echo has worked hard for more than 30 years to help keep Byron and the north coast unique with quality local journalism and creative ideas. We think this area needs more voices, reasoned analysis and ideas than just those provided by News Corp, lifestyle mags, Facebook groups and corporate newsletters.

The Echo is one hundred per cent locally owned and one hundred per cent independent. As you have probably gathered from what is happening in the media industry, it is not cheap to produce a weekly newspaper and a daily online news service of any quality.

We have always relied entirely on advertising to fund our operations, but often loyal readers who value our local, independent journalism have asked how they could help ensure our survival.

Any support you can provide to The Echo will make an enormous difference. You can make a one-off contribution or a monthly one. With your help, we can continue to support a better informed local community and a healthier democracy for another 30 years.”

Echonetdaily is made possible by the support of all of our advertisers and is brought to you by this weeks sponsor, Vast and Khentrul Lodro T'haye Rinpoche