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Wollongong City Council

Council condemns Sandon Point vegetation vandalism

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Wollongong City Council has condemned recent acts of vegetation vandalism within and around the Sandon Point Aboriginal Place.

The vandalism was within and alongside the area that is currently temporarily fenced off at Sandon Point. Over the past two weeks trees and shrubs have been sawn in half and other plants significantly damaged in what is believed to have been more than one incident. All up, about eight medium to large Coastal Banksias, more than 15 Casuarinas and several Acacias were vandalised.

The Sandon Point site is a dedicated Aboriginal Place and is one of the few in NSW. Council acknowledges the cultural significance of the Sandon Point – McCauley’s Beach Aboriginal Place and takes pride in our role to support the Sandon Point Joint Management Agreement Partner organisations to protect its cultural and heritage values.

Aboriginal people have had a connection to this land for thousands of years. This is shown by the existence of middens, oral and written histories and the discovery of a 6,000-year-old burial.

“This is an extremely significant site and we are truly fortunate to have something of this cultural importance in our city,’’ Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said.

“I am outraged that some person or people have taken it upon themselves to get into the area that’s been temporarily fenced off to allow the vegetation to re-establish itself and to hack into the trees and plants.

“The heritage of our local Aboriginal community is significant and should be honoured and celebrated, not desecrated. This destructive behaviour is not acceptable, and this senseless act causes me to despair at the insensitive attitudes of some people given it’s also Reconciliation Week.’’

Council is committed to protecting the Sandon Point site and will undertake work to upgrade four beach access points by the end of this year, and build stairs and an access ramp to McCauleys Beach, south of the fenced area, by summer 2021. We’ve been working for some time on these plans, which will provide clear accessways to the beach and discourage people from using informal pathways through the site.

“We know this area is special, we know it’s significant and that’s why we’re working with the Sandon Point Joint Management Agreement Partner organisations to protect it,’’ Cr Bradbery said.

“We’ve been working to provide formal pathways to the beach from Sandon Point so that people don’t wander off the area’s established pathways and through sacred spaces and ecologically significant vegetation. Given the site’s long history, this is complex work and we need to get it right and ensure we’re not disturbing any significant sites. I’m pleased that work on this stairway will start soon and will ultimately allow people to get onto McCauley’s Beach easily, safely and respectfully.’’

Council is committed to working with the Partner organisation on a re-planting initiative that will see the plants removed replaced in the latest act of vegetation vandalism, and additional plant species native to the area added. We will also work with the Organisations on other steps that might be taken, including signage, to discourage vegetation vandalism.

“If you know anything about this wanton damage to the trees and plants, please contact NSW Police,’’ Cr Bradbery said.

“There are hefty fines of up to $550,000 or two years’ imprisonment, or both, for damage like this, and in this location. I know many people, like me, will be angered by these actions. We need to work together to look after this special space.’’