The artefacts, including a complete hand-axe and fragments that could be used for cutting tools, were discovered during a site survey in 2019. On discovery, and in line with the project’s Cultural Heritage Management Plan, ARTC, the relevant Aboriginal party and their specialist technical advisers have been working closely together to develop a solution that is appropriate to the significance of the site.
Judy Bell, Board Director of the Peak Hill Local Aboriginal Land Council, said:
‘As a Wiradjuri woman from the Upper Bogan River people of Peak Hill, on behalf of the Peak Hill LALC and our community, we appreciate ARTC Inland Rail’s commitment to working closely with our people and respecting our culture and heritage in a culturally responsive way.
‘We are very pleased with the process, and for us Peak Hill Traditional Custodians, returning artefacts in a culturally safe way back to country is necessary for our local cultural history and is central for us as a people. Each object is unique and has a connection to its place of origin and tells a story that plays a vital part in a shared history’.
Frances Robinson, Chairperson of the Peak Hill Local Aboriginal Land Council, said:
‘It is important for our current and future generations to see the return of their ancestorial objects and cultural material, back home to country in Peak Hill, to the place where our old people, our ancestors left their footprint on our traditional land’.
Rebecca Pickering, ARTC Inland Rail Interim Chief Executive, said:
‘We acknowledge that Inland Rail will be built and operated on the traditional lands of many Aboriginal communities.
‘We value our relationships with Aboriginal communities and recognise their inherent connection to their traditional lands and their continuing responsibility of stewardship and caring for country and culture.
‘We will continue to consult with Aboriginal leaders at every opportunity to ensure progress on the Inland Rail program is carried out in cooperation with those Aboriginal communities.
‘Inland Rail offers a unique opportunity to survey and explore areas previously untouched by cultural heritage investigation. Potential discoveries will add to the wider community’s knowledge of and respect for Aboriginal people’s use of the land and Australia’s shared cultural heritage’.