Conservation Management Plans for Baiame Cave a step closer

The Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for Milbrodale's Baiame Cave is one step closer to being completed.

Its is expected the final version of the plan will be delivered to the State Government in the next month.

Funding for the plan was approved by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) in June 2016 when they provided a $70,000 (ex GST) grant to Wonnarua National Aboriginal Corporation.

A finalised draft plan was delivered to the Department of Premier and Cabinet by consultants GML Heritage in August 2018 and that is where it has sat until earlier this month.

This is despite the cave having dual heritage listing being registered as an Aboriginal Place and also being listed as a State significant heritage item since 2016 and being in need of urgent of protection from vandals and inappropriate nearby development as well as the wear and tear on access routes to the cave.

Baiame Cave

Baiame Cave

Once the CMP is completed its hoped funding will become available to provide round-the-clock protection of this wonderful site and upgrade access and facilities.

Located on private land the cave overlooks the Milbrodale/Bulga Valley and contains a series of rock art motifs including white stencils hands and most importantly the depiction of Baiame -with arms outstretched.

Baiame is understood by some Aboriginal people across NSW to be the creator, the 'Father of All' the most important ancestor and law-maker.

The site is described as a rare indigenous rock art painting site and one of a series of sites associated with Baiame including one at nearby Mount Yengo.

Vandals had chiseled initials into the cave and due to the threat of further vandalism Wonnarua elder, Warren Taggart, had called for the cave to be closed to the public until it can be properly protected and managed.

In their draft CMP of August 2018 GML Heritage raised concerns that Baiame Cave was not listed on Schedule 5, Environmental Heritage of the Singleton Local Environment Plan (2013).

Nor is it listed on the National Heritage List as a place of outstanding significance to the nation under the provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999).

Other concerns listed in the draft include impacts from any future inappropriate land use and development within the valley or the surrounding hills which will have substantial impacts on the cave and its significant setting.

Land use within and around the valley must be carefully managed through negotiation and appropriate planning legislation and development guidelines.

Department of Premier and Cabinet spokesperson said the NSW Government provided comments on the Conservation Management Plan in 2018, which the grant recipient and their consultant are considering for incorporation.

The grant is for preparation of a Conservation Management Plan and does not include funding for works at the site and to date, $45,000m has been paid to the recipient.

Commenting on the LEP listing by Singleton Council they said a local heritage listing is a matter for the local council. However, as Baiame Cave is listed on the State Heritage Register and as an Aboriginal Place, the NSW Government is working with the landowner and the community on strategies to conserve the site.