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Byron Shire
April 13, 2021

Top of Mt Warning

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Daniel O’Brien, Federal

Letters about Mt Warning were interesting. Chris Gee defended National Parks and Wildlife for adopting the views of the Bundjalung nation, suggesting that loss of public access accords with respecting traditional owners and contributing to reconciliation. Gisela Stieglitz got much closer to the bullseye, asking ‘Why close the public road 4km downhill and prohibit walking on it?’

Presuming that the Bundjalung nation has a comprehensive view on the matter is ridiculous. Bundjalung consists of 15 tribal groups. I am no expert, just a white bloke passing by, but I understand that only two tribes have traditional connection to Wollumbin, our local Arakwal mob and the Minjungbal people from Tweed Heads.

Joint traditional occupation is not relevant to argument concerning public access, nor is it the principal obstacle to determination of Native Title over Wollumbin. The real problem is fiction concerning conservation. Mt Warning is a World Heritage Listed site administered by UNESCO. Legally, protection of Wollumbin is not an exclusively Australian or Indigenous agenda, it is also the interest of the United Nations.

The park was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1986. I was one of many visitors who climbed Wollumbin and did ‘witness creation’. I have visited countless sites where personal responsibility is required to mitigate risk, to both the site and one’s own person.

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  1. The Park management indicates the following cultural group were custodians:
    These peoples are associated with the following areas of the Tweed Caldera:
    · the Nganduwal people, associated with lands including the central and northern parts ofthe Tweed Caldera. (this includes Mt Warning)
    · the Galibal and Githabul people, associated with lands including the western portion of the Tweed Caldera; and
    · the Widjabal people , associated with lands including the southern portion of the Tweed Caldera.

    Here’s what Ngarakwal/Nganduwal Elder Marlene Boyd said about the climb: “I do not oppose the public climbing of Mt Warning – how can the public experience the spiritual significance of this land if they do not climb the summit and witness creation!”

    I’m happy to respect that view.


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