Stop highway call over 'Gympie Pyramid' land rights claim
THE Bruce Highway bypass of Gympie would destroy an Aboriginal sacred site that is not legally owned by the Transport and Main Roads Department, it was claimed this week.
Aboriginal land rights activist Wit-boooka was recorded as pleading not guilty in Gympie Magistrates Court to a charge of trespassing on the increasingly legendary Rocky Ridge site on November 26.
His representative told the court on Monday that Wit-boooka and his Kabi people owned the site, which had been recognised by early Australian governments as Aboriginal land.
She said it was now due to be bulldozed and excavated to make way for the planned new four-lane route for the Bruce Highway past Gympie.
Also known as "the Gympie Pyramid,” the site, east of the railway line on the north side of Gympie Connection Rd, has been subject to many theories about claimed artificial origins.
Various legends have included claims it is a real pyramid, now overgrown but built by ancient visitors.
Another is that it is a terraced hillside developed by early Italian settlers.
The representative told the court on Monday it was a sacred site.
In 2016, Wit-boooka showed The Gympie Times what appear to be artificial indentations in the terrace-like surface rock of the hill, indentations he said were used by his ancestors to grind seeds.
Magistrate Chris Callaghan accepted Wit-boooka's claim that he did not wish to be known by the name, Gary Roy Tomlinson, under which he was originally charged.
Mr Callaghan amended the charge to show the name Wit-boooka, of the Kabi tribe.
Mr Callaghan also accepted that the name had three "o”s in "boooka.”
Wit-boooka's representative called for a delay in the start of highway earthworks at Rocky Ridge, saying the prosecution had an obligation to prevent the destruction of relevant evidence.
This evidence was in the form of the existing surface of the ridge, including relics that the representative claimed proved ancient Aboriginal occupation and use of the site.
But Mr Callaghan said he did not have the power to make such an order, telling her she needed to take that matter up with the Minister for Transport Mark Bailey.
The representative also apologised to the court on behalf of Wit-boooka, saying he was concerned that his personal representations appeared to upset the court.
"He doesn't upset me,” Mr Callaghan said.
"I think we've reached the stage in our relationship where we can respect each other.”