Gomeroi sacred sites, grinding grooves will be ‘irreversibly desecrated’ by Shenhua Watermark coal mine

EIGHT sacred sites will be “irreversibly desecrated or destroyed” if the Shenhua Watermark coal mine goes ahead, the Gomeroi Traditional Custodians say.

The group has made an application to the federal government, seeking its intervention to protect the sites.

The eight specific sites include two rare grinding grooves, three culturally modified trees, a culturally significant gully, river and swamp, along with the entire Watermark Mountain.

It’s the second such application the Gomeroi Traditional Custodians have submitted. The previous application was well under way, with the government appointing Sydney barrister Susan Phillips to investigate at the start of 2017.

The Leader understands the second application was submitted to increase the number of sites from five to eight.

Breeza resident and “traditional descendent” of the area, Mitchum Neaves, said Watermark Mountain had a rich Aboriginal history.

“It was a boundary line, a place where the tribes came together for war against each other and later against Europe settlement,” Mr Neaves said.

“It’s got burial sites and massacre sites. My ancestors fought and died there. Those grinding grooves are like our war memorials.”

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Mr Neaves said he’d love for people to come and see the grinding grooves, so people knew what was at stake.

“People are amazed, they get tingles all over their body when they look at these,” he said.

“When you see them, you can understand why they’re so meaningful to us.”

Shenhua has proposed to move the massive sandstone grinding grooves to another location.

“These sandstone blocks are so big they can’t move them as they are, they’d have to cut them up and pin them back together in some random paddock,” Mr Neave said.

“If this was European heritage, there wouldn’t even be a question of whether it should be destroyed for a big, dirty coal pit,” Dr Faruqi said.

“It’s really clear to me that the sacred grinding grooves, Watermark Mountain and the river and gully area have deep and ongoing spiritual meaning for Aboriginal people.”

Shenhua declined to comment.

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