Council has been in negotiations with the Department of Justice and Community Safety on behalf of the Barengi Land Council, the entity that represents the WJJWJ Peoples, which had asked that the site be returned to them. The site is significant to the Wotjobaluk, Jaadwa, Jadawadjali, Wergaia and Jupagalk Peoples having links to creation stories and connections with the wives of Bunjil, a creator in WJJWJ lore.
The Mayor of the Northern Grampians Shire Council said, “The land is held in freehold title by Council and we believe that returning the land is a powerful and practical act of reconciliation by the Council on behalf of ratepayers. It is a highly significant settlement outcome for the Traditional Owner group and will secure the land for future generations of WJJWJ Peoples.
During negotiations Council has considered the proposed Section 3 Western Highway Duplication project and continued access by residents and visitors.”
He said, “There is strong local attachment to the site that is linked to our own history and this decision has not been made lightly. It will not be understood or supported by our whole community but, Council genuinely believes this is the right thing to do and supports the aspirations of the WWJWJ Peoples to restore the Aboriginal cultural heritage values and protect the site from vandalism and uses that conflict with those values and lore.”