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Aboriginal artifacts - inspections and reports may delay proposed BBay Pool

The next meeting of the Batemans Bay Indoor Aquatic Centre Committee Inc will be held at the Catalina Club in the Forum Room at 5pm on Tuesday 8th May. The guest speakers will be Lindsay Usher (Director of Planning and Sustainability Services ESC) and Warren Sharpe (Director of Infrastructure Services ESC). The meeting will discuss the $26million grant that has been announced towards the aquatic, arts and leisure centre. Also on the agenda will be "Where do we go from here" and "How can the community help to be a part of the project and proposed centre". The General Manager recently advised Councillors that the committed $26m had not yet been received. The Mayor also recently advised Councillors that the successful tendering architect will be made aware that it will need to be a staged development as there was only $26m of the $46m required on the table and that the additional money was subject to other grant approvals. As with any development proposal, due diligence investigations into the potential for Aboriginal artefacts will need to be carried out and this may need to be followed by detailed site investigations. While Member for Bega Andrew Constance said he wanted to see "dozers on site" before March 2018 there will be a need to carry out a thorough site inspection of the area as the potential for Aboriginal artefacts to be located on the subject site is a matter that will need to be further investigated as part of the design process. It is common knowledge that such detailed investigations take a considerable time and that there is already a backlog on the South Coast for such inspections as researchers and resources are limited. The Mackay Park precinct does have aboriginal significance and there are known artifacts in the area. Depending on what is found this could be a limiting factor to any development in the area and some of the older, informed community members suggest that if there are artifacts found this could well return the Aquatic Centre to Hanging Rock. The area at the back of the Mackay Park clubhouse and the area around South Street in Batemans Bay was a permanent camp for Aboriginal people in the township in the late nineteenth century. In 1826 Harper, a Wesleyan missionary, was journeying along the south coast by boat with the aim of determining an appropriate place for a mission. At Batemans Bay Harper met 87 men, 36 women and 23 children with whom he traded gifts, receiving kangaroo teeth fastened to string made from possum fur with gum, shells and red ochre . Harper made the following observations regarding their settlement and subsistence: "Their principle manner of living is in catching fish, and marine animals, (seals) and in procuring the fruits that grow wild in the woods on which they chiefly subsist. They generally repose at about a half a mile from the sea coast. They have temporary huts, ornamented with a tuft of grass fastened to a stick, and projecting from the front part of the top". Harper in Organ 1990: 140-42

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