An Indigenous ceremonial stone site close to Uncle Tom’s at the Mullumbimby turnoff has been confirmed by the NSW Office of Heritage and Environment (OEH).
Heritage conservation officer Ashley Moran, based in Alstonville, told The Echo that the area is significant to the Indigenous people of the Brunswick and Tweed valleys and that there are potentially thousands of undiscovered Aboriginal sites across the northern rivers region.
‘A lot of these sites are not recorded’, he said, and encouraged anyone who finds what appears to be an authentic Aboriginal site to contact him via his office on 02 8289 6313.
OEH closely engages with Indigenous community members and groups across the region on a regular basis, he says, ‘as they are the only ones who should be engaged to interpret the heritage.’
As a proud Bundjalung man he says, ‘I was born in Widjabul Wiyabul Country, Lismore, and grew up on Cabbage Tree Island, an Aboriginal community situated on the lower Richmond River located between Wardell and Broadwater.
‘I’ve been with the OEH for nearly 17 years now, assisting with the identification, recording and interpreting of Aboriginal sites and places of special significance to local Aboriginal communities, and am very passionate about educating the broader public on Aboriginal heritage values.’
Mr Moran has a large area to cover. ‘As the heritage conservation officer, my boundaries cover the Tweed River to the north and as far south to Macleay Valley, Kempsey, and extends west along the tablelands to Tenterfield, Glen Innes then back down towards Dorrigo and Bellbrook.’
Meanwhile local authors Steve Strong and his son Evan have been trying to confirm what they believe is a Stone Henge-like site at the same Mullumbimby site; Steve told The Echo they believe large ‘standing stones’ made from columnar basalt were brought there, but were later removed in the 1940s.
He said, ‘We have the map of each rock, their sacred name, its meaning, the song and dance for the rocks, and now the rocks.’
Strong told The Echo that as a representative of a ‘Council of Elders and concerned citizens’ which contains 25 members, their aim is to ‘recover the standing stones and put them back on the mound. We have written about this in some detail over the last three years.’
Strong relies on evidence from an academic from the 1930s, Frederic Slater, and correspondence with local Brunswick Heads school headmaster from around the same time, Fred Fordham.
According to Strong, Slater became an academic outcast but was a ‘visionary well ahead of his time.’
‘His work on the standing- stones site was known around the world and led directly to his academic death.
‘So great was the censorship of Slater, we are yet to find one public photograph or acknowledgement in any academic record.
‘What we need to do is establish the scientific validity of the claim by a geologist.’
But OEH Heritage Conservation Officer Ashley Moran told The Echo that columnar basalt rocks are naturally occurring stones.
‘Nine times out of ten, you could find these large stone pillars buried around here associated with Mt Wollumbin (Warning) being an ancient volcano.
‘You see many basalt stone columnar assembled at the front entrance of private properties locally, especially in the Mullumbimby area it’s a natural stone unearthed commonly everywhere.
‘Strong’s view is contrary to other Indigenous people’s in the region,’ he added.