Shane Carriage and Lyn Mills from the Ulladulla Local Aboriginal Land Council.
As for the dunnart, surveyors used large PVC pipes distributed around the area with food in them. Rather than trap any dunnarts, the pipes are supposed to simply capture hair samples of animals that enter them. That hair is then sent off to a lab for analysis, to determine from which animal it came.
“After all the testing, we found nothing, not a thing. Not a skerrick.
“But the dunnart became the sticking point, even though the second survey found none.
“National Parks’ attitude was ‘They were there once’, so that was it.”
“I thought at the time, “We probably once used to eat this thing, now it’s costing us a feed.
“Talk about Karma.”
In a bid to unstall the project, Shane, along with representatives from Malbec, met with officials from National Parks and the Department of Planning.
“We were trying to nut out the problem with the dunnart, and how we can go about doing what we want to do, which was a substantial development.
“We spoke about how it would economically free up our community, how it would enable us to run programs to benefit our people, to create employment.
“The guy from National Parks words were, more or less, ‘I know our decision not to allow you to develop this land will create a socio-economic impact on your community, but that’s not my problem.
“So, basically, the dunnart is his problem, not Aboriginal people.”
It took another few years of battling the NSW Government for National Parks to finally concede, and for the Department of Planning to finally give approval.
But it came at a price.
The original proposal to develop the 16 hectares had to be substantially reduced, with ULALC agreeing to give up 40 percent of the land, which would be locked up as a conservation zone. Which brings us back to the development of the adjoining dairy.
That project is well underway, and houses have already been constructed.
When the original developers started on the project, they were required to set aside the equivalent of about 10 percent of the site, not for environmental reasons, says Shane, but to acknowledge what was previously there.
But prior to construction, the site yielded a major archeological find. Thousands upon thousands of Aboriginal artefacts were found.
“We originally did about five months of work collecting artefacts from the site,” says Shane.
“We found stone tools, chips, flakes – we’ve got 7,000 of them here in the office, which we collected. And you can still find them today.”
But with the original developers going broke before the project was completed, and new developers buying the site, everything changed.
“Four or five years later, after the initial decision was made, the new developer applied to national parks to have (the 10 percent requirement) revoked. And they did. They got all those blocks back.
“They’re up for sale, and some of them have even been built on.
“It actually butts onto our land – we have a common boundary. So National Parks are agreeing there’s no cultural significance on their land, because National Parks gets to make the decision about what is culturally significant and what’s not.
“At the same time, one dunnart which cannot be found again, has cost us 40 percent of our land.
“As far as I’m concerned, there’s been little or no equity in the decision-making from National Parks.