The future of the Ravensworth Estate near Singleton, unfortunately comes down to a case of mining versus Indigenous cultural heritage.
Ravensworth Estate sits atop of a significant coal reserve which its owners Glencore wish to extract and continue their Glendell mining operations. The company is prepared to spend monies to relocate the historic Ravensworth Homestead either within the property or to the village of Broke.
However local Wonnarua people argue the Estate is too culturally significant to be mined as it was the site of well documented Aboriginal massacres during the 1820s.
Speaking to the Singleton Argus this week in support of campaign to protect the Estate was Kevin Duncan, a cultural educator and Awaba and Gomeroi elder, whose family can trace their ancestry back to the earliest contacts between Aborigines and white settlers in Lake Macquarie and the Singleton and Muswellbrook districts.
"We continue to destroy our land and our culture and this must stop. Our family research and the records show we were hunted out of the Upper Hunter by the settlers and most likely members of my family were massacred at Ravensworth like they were at Myall Creek," he said.
"Enough is enough we need to protect that site and it must be protected."
The protection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage gained national headlines this week following the release of the final report into the destruction of 46,000 year old caves at Juukan Gorge in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
The final report titled, A Way Forward, emphasises that what happened at Juukan Gorge is not unique. It is an extreme example of the destruction of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage which continues to happen in this country.
It is 14 months ago that an application was made by Robert Lester and Scott Franks as representatives of the Plains Clan of the Wonnarua People (PCWP) for the preservation and protection of a specified area described as 'Ravensworth Estate', and including Bowmans Creek and Glennies Creek, near Singleton.
Mr Lester is the Chairperson of the Plains Clan of the Wonnarua People Aboriginal Corporation and is seeking the long-term preservation and protection of a 'significant Aboriginal area' under the Federal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984.
Under section 10 of the Act the Federal Minister for Environment Sussan Ley can protect and preserve that area which includes Glencore's Glendell Continuation Project.
The Glendell open cut mine expansion will impact 'hallowed ground' of the Wonnarua people, Mr Lester has previously stated.
Known as the Glendell Continuation Project it will extend the life of the company's existing Glendell open cut mine near Ravensworth until 2044 with Glencore saying the project will provide ongoing employment of 600 workers and inject millions of dollars into the local and state economy as well as provide millions of dollars in state mining royalties.
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