Kempsey Council confirm Stuarts Point sewerage system won't pass through centuries-old Indigenous meeting site at Clybucca

Untouched: The Clybucca-Stuarts Point midden runs almost continuously for 14km and is renowned for its well preserved shell deposits.
Untouched: The Clybucca-Stuarts Point midden runs almost continuously for 14km and is renowned for its well preserved shell deposits.

Fears that construction of the Stuarts Point sewerage system would damage a centuries-old Indigenous meeting site at Clybucca have eased, with Kempsey Shire Council confirming they don’t propose to pass through the area.

Known as the Golden Hole, the Clybucca-Stuarts Point midden complex adjoins the Yarrahapinni wetlands and is part of the Clybucca historic site.

The Golden Hole midden, which was a dumping area for food waste including bone and shells, is the largest estuarine midden in the temperate area of Australia. 

Archaeologists have dated initial Aboriginal occupation of the site to about 6000 to 9000 years ago.

Robert Scott, Kempsey Shire Council’s director of infrastructure services, confirmed there was no plans to pass through the complex.

Initial plans are to instead have the system cross the river north of the area. 

Mr Scott said that heritage sites are identified through the environmental assessment phase of any project.

While not planning on going through the Golden Hole area, Mr Scott said it was possible other areas of concern might arise during planning, in which case mitigation measures or simply altering the route would be considered.

He said it would take another couple of months to finalise the environmental assessment. 

Extending the sewer service to the toilet facilities at camping area near the site was also initially considered, but is not likely to proceed due to other heritage concerns. 

Nambucca’s Uncle Buddy Marshall, a Gumbaynggirr man, welcomed the news that the system wouldn’t damage the site.

“It’s a big relief,” the 76-year-old elder said. 

“It’s where my grandfather traveled around, years ago. It’s got a lot of important history."

“It’s full of shells from their meals. It’s a meeting place, a place where different tribes got together for a feed.”

Uncle Buddy said preserving such sites was crucial to preserving Indigenous culture.  

“It’s really important, I’d hate to see it destroyed.”