#AceNewsReport – Dec.06: There are plenty of half-built remains beside highways and main roads across the region to remind people what happens when dreams don’t come true: One of those properties is an unfinished castle west of the small Atherton Tableland town of Millaa Millaa.
#AceDailyNews says that Far North Queensland can be a tough place to live with cyclones, scorching heat, and rain that is measured in metres. It can be a place of dreams and sometimes nightmares ABC News Report:
A man and his castle
Yugoslav immigrant Andy Markovic had dreams of building an English-style manor that looked out over the green valleys of the tablelands.
Mr Markovic started building his dream house on the site of an old Queenslander by adding another storey, complete with a castle-like turret.
Mr Markovic locked horns with local authorities over building permits and never got to see his dream home completed.
The final nail in the coffin was Cyclone Larry in 2006 which damaged the mostly hand-built property.
Mr Markovic passed away in early 2020 and the property was then sold to a local grazier.
On the Captain Cook Highway at Clifton Beach are the remains of one of the Far North’s most loved attractions.
The Cairns Tropical Zoo closed in 2015; the site had been a wildlife attraction under different names since the 1960s.
A developer bought the site in 2015 and has plans to demolish the zoo, replacing it with a service station and two fast-food restaurants.
The proposal is yet to gain council approval.
Frog on the Banana
The Frog on the Banana has been sitting beside the Bruce Highway at Daradgee since 2002.
Mark Contempree built the fruit stall after moving to the Cassowary Coast from Coffs Harbour, the home of another big attraction.
“In Coffs, they had the Big Banana, and I was growing bananas and I wanted an iconic fruit stall out the front of my farm to sell excess stock,” he said.
The store was forced to close after major flooding in March 2018.
More recently it was a rental property before being declared an illegal dwelling as its zoning was for a roadside fruit stall.
Now the building sits boarded up with the Frog on the Banana sitting by itself just off the highway.
A clubhouse among the wallabies
At the back of the Trinity Beach sports precinct lies a paddock that was once home to the Cairns Polocrosse Club.
The building is just visible to drivers who can see the top of the clubhouse as they travel south along the Captain Cook Highway.
While the clubhouse is still there, the horses are long gone and the paddocks are now home to hundreds of agile wallabies.
The building was erected in 1982 and the last game of polo was played in 2015.
Due to a lack of members, the club closed and the building is to be demolished to make way for cricket grounds.
Not much is known about the “Mirriwinni mansion”, an unfinished house on the corner of the Bruce Highway and Jackson Street in Mirriwinni, except that hundreds of people pull over every year to take photos of it.
The house has been sitting half-finished for more than a decade and is now falling into disrepair.
The land was put on the market in 2016 before the owners withdrew the sale and it is now leased to a local farmer for sugar cane.
The owners did not respond to requests about the house from the ABC.
#AceHistoryReport – June.27: It’d be the equivalent today of a giant spaceship pulling up over the city,” Bunurong man Dan Turnbull said: And I know, that’s outrageous. But it was outrageous, what happened at the time.”
AUSTRLIA: Melbourne’s birth destroyed Bunurong and Wurundjeri boundaries. 185 years on, they’ve been redrawn after the formal founding of Melbourne, the Wurundjeri and Bunurong people have reasserted their status as traditional owners over the heart of what is now a sprawling city home to more than five million people
NOTE: This story contains images and names of people who have died.
Over just a few decades, Bunurong and Wurundjeri people were pushed off their land to make way for Melbourne: Languages, cultural practices and access to important sites were banned: In some instances, there were contemporary accounts that Aboriginal women effectively terminated pregnancies, such was their despair at the world their children would grow up in.
“You probably struggled to find anything that could have had a greater impact, apart from maybe a natural disaster at a huge level,” Mr Turnbull said.
After four years of close discussions, the two groups were not able to reach agreement on where a boundary line should be drawn across the city’s centre.
So the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council stepped in with a proposed border to mark Wurundjeri country to the north and Bunurong country to the south — and this week, both groups agreed on that proposal.
The new line means both traditional owner groups, who already held responsibility over large tracts of land, will have their recognised land expanded.
It’s the process of years of work piecing back together knowledge that, before colonisation, had been shared between generations of Bunurong and Wurundjeri people for tens of thousands of years.
The new boundary line runs from west to east across the city, placing the CBD, Richmond and Hawthorn in Wurundjeri territory, and Albert Park, St Kilda and Caulfield on Bunurong land.
The decision clarifies who councils, businesses and communities in the most densely populated parts of the city should recognise as traditional owners from July 1.
Mr Turnbull, who is the CEO of the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, said his people were “deeply excited” by the outcome, which required concessions from both traditional owner groups.
“I’m only speaking for our group, but I think both groups would agree that in order to reach this outcome, that we’ve all had to be quite flexible,” he said.
But Mr Turnbull said his community was at peace with that and believed the result was “a better future state for everyone”.
The Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, which has also agreed to the boundaries, declined to comment.
Reviving ancient boundaries is a complex exercise
Trying to resolve the question of where the boundary should be drawn was a task fraught with complexity.
For one thing, the borders as they were practiced before colonisation were not legalistic, explicit lines, but commonly understood landscapes and markers including plains and rivers.
Many of those have been concreted over and waterways diverted to build Melbourne, meaning the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council, which developed the agreed-upon proposal, had to consider other markers.
That includes man-made elements such as roads, with Bank Street to become part of the boundary running through South Melbourne.
In outlining the boundary, the council acknowledged how the forces of colonisation had warped and bent the boundaries.
“Today, as modern people living an ancient Culture, we are comfortable enough in ourselves to draw a line on a map,” the council said.
“We are strong enough in the old ways to know, in our hearts, that the line it is as accurate as we can make it today.
“To identify a road or a new waterway as a boundary is our answer to a problem not of our creation.”
The written records of colonisers also played a key role in understanding where the boundaries lay before colonisation.
In particular, the diaries and recollections that quoted two prominent Aboriginal leaders during the early years of colonisation — Bunurong elder Derrimut, and Wurundjeri elder William Barak.
The council found Wurundjeri land was largely defined by the Birrarung (Yarra River), including country surrounding waterways which flowed into the freshwater Birrarung.
Council took the “crucial indicator” for Bunurong land to be if the water on it flowed into saltwaters.
Council chair Rodney Carter, a Dja Dja Wurrung and Yorta Yorta man, said every decision to recognise traditional owners was really significant.
“But I think what’s really present in all our minds, is such a populous place, our capital city in the state of Victoria … it’s fantastic that we can now hand that over to the traditional owners to sort of lead what should happen to the protection of cultural heritage,” he said.
Mr Carter said it was important to acknowledge the line required in today’s Australia to manage land affairs did not reflect the historical boundaries, which were “more blurred because they’re the places that bring us together, make us stronger”.
“The boundaries are the places that define us, in our strength towards each other and our relationship,” he said.
“And that’s not always clearly understood and even applied today, because we need these boundaries, really as borders.
“And they weren’t that in a past sense.
“So going forward, I think another brilliant thing is how groups actually collaborate at these points of strength, these boundaries, where they come together.
“And I feel really positive about that, because it’s an important value for us to instill in future generations on their governance.”
Caring for country responsibilities will grow
For the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, the new boundary means its responsibilities will increase after July 1, when they will take on formal responsibility for protecting cultural heritage over the vast tract of land.
“There are now 22 local government authorities that will be seeking to engage with Bunurong people for decision making within their boundaries,” he said.
The corporation is often contacted by schools, too, who are keen to ensure they are sharing culturally appropriate lessons with their students on Bunurong land.
From July, the group will also need to be across more significant construction sites, where they have a duty to ensure that harm to any Aboriginal heritage discovered while digging is minimised.
“What we’re finding now in the city, which is the first built place in, in what is now known to be Melbourne, is often when they’re knocking down a building and they’re doing excavation into the new car parks that they’re proposing to put under the ground, they’re finding new heritage, that is still very much intact,” Mr Turnbull said.
“There will be probably 50 per cent of the city, that when you go down under that subsurface, you still find the historical stuff on top, marbles, buttons, even the rooms of the buildings, doorways, fireplaces, their rubbish pits are still there.
“And then you dig underneath that, and then all our stuff’s still there.”
Some traditional owners yet to be formally recognised
While the complete boundaries over Victoria’s capital city are now settled, the struggle for other traditional owners continues.
There are just 11 formally recognised traditional owner groups, who cover around 75 per cent of the state’s land.
As the state’s treaty process marches on, Victoria is coming closer to a point in time where individual nations may seek to negotiate agreements with the state government.
The First Peoples’ Assembly, which is laying the groundwork for treaties, is concerned about a lack of progress on the recognition of those groups, despite multi-million-dollar investments from the Andrews government in recent years.
At a meeting this month, the Assembly called on the government to urgently fast track those applications, so those groups could gain Registered Aboriginal Party (RAP) status, which confers legal rights to speak for country.
The Victorian government has said it is reviewing its program aimed at supporting Aboriginal nation-building and recognition, to see how it could more closely support traditional owners.
Back on Bunurong land in Frankston, Mr Turnbull hopes news of the boundary will awaken more curiosity in Melburnians to seek out the full story of their city’s history, directly from the books of settlers like John Fawkner.
“Because it’s a beautiful story, and it’s also a very sad story, as well,” he said.
“With more rollercoasters than any Hollywood blockbuster that’s out at the moment — the stories of warriors and leaders and things that have been lost, things that have been found.
#AceNewsReport – May.14: A search [online] for any vacant residential land will show there is not one single block of land available in Culburra, that somebody could buy to build a house on,” Mr Muller said:
The Land and Environment Court has been told a village on the New South Wales south coast will struggle to survive if a controversial housing development is not approved, while environmental groups say it would have dire impacts on water quality, wildlife habitat and Aboriginal cultural heritage’
Culburra community at loggerheads over revised plans for housing development: Culburra Beach and Districts Chamber of Commerce president Brian Muller, who is a local real estate agent, said the seaside village had seen a sharp rise in houses being used for holiday rentals, leaving supply for permanent residents at “crisis point”.
“One recent sale of land and it wasn’t on the beach front, no views, it sold for $645,000. That price is extraordinary for a village like Culburra beach.
“It’s so unaffordable and unfortunately we will run out of businesses eventually if we don’t have a permanent population to sustain the businesses that are here,” he said.
Environmental concerns remain
The Independent Planning Commission rejected the original proposal for more than 650 low and medium-density residential lots, tourist accommodation, cafés and restaurants, in 2018.
The commission found the proposal was “inappropriate in scale” and had the potential to impact water quality in nearby catchments, and could “irreversibly impact on Aboriginal cultural heritage.”
The applicant later won an appeal in the Land and Environment Court to submit amended plans for almost 300 dwellings and 13 industrial lots but residents opposed to the project argued the changes do not go far enough.
“There’d be groundwater impacts on Lake Wollumboola but the water-quality impacts would be in the Crookhaven River catchment if this development was to go ahead,” Lake Wollumboola Protection Association president Frances Bray said.
“That would impact on oyster growing but also on fish and birdlife.”
“We’re so lucky here to have relatively undisturbed major wetlands and to think they would be degraded by this development is really very distressing,” she said.
‘It’s making me sick’
Residents opposed to the project also raised concerns about the one-road access into the village, particularly during emergencies, and claimed the development was at odds with its character.
Jerrinja Aboriginal Land Council CEO Alfred Wellington said he was also worried dozens of sacred Aboriginal sites including middens — believed to be thousands of years old — would be destroyed if the project was approved.
“There’s a lot of areas in these development footprints that our community hasn’t been able to access, so, there’s potentially a lot more sites out there that could be impacted by this development,” Mr Wellington said.
Jerrinja resident Graham Connolly Junior said he was disappointed the local Aboriginal community was not consulted more rigorously about the proposal.
“The land they’re going to be developing on has cultural significance to the Jerrinja Tribal People and we believe our sites should not be touched,” Mr Connolly said.
“It’s actually making me sick that my land is being impacted on without us being part of the process, to give knowledge about what needs to be recognised and what needs to be protected,” Mr Connolly said.
A decision on the project is due to be made in the coming weeks.