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Monday, 29 October 2012
Page: 12349

Mr MITCHELL (McEwen) (10:57): Last week I attended a very significant local event, and one that I believe is actually very significant in Australia's history. It was a special occasion to be able to participate in the official handing back of two very important sites on a day of celebration for our local community. As Bunjil the eagle flew overhead welcoming us to his lands, Minister Macklin officially handed back the Mount William Axe Quarry and the Sunbury Earthen Rings—properties acquired by the Indigenous Land Corporation—in a moving ceremony on the Powells Track, Lancefield, property.

The Mount William Axe Quarry is a 7.5-hectare portion of land that contains important links to Aboriginal history and physical evidence of a well-known hatchet quarry. The site is well documented in archaeological literature, and is internationally recognised for its cultural significance. The site contains the remains of hundreds of mining pits where Wurundjeri people obtained the green stone to make axe heads. Green stone axes from Mount William were traditionally traded to Aboriginal people over a wide area of south-eastern Australia before European settlers arrived in the area. The ILC acquired the Mount William property in 1997 by way of gift from the Macedon Ranges Shire Council. We thank the shire for doing that significant event and important gift. The site is part of an 18-hectare cultural heritage site which has been added to the National Heritage List.

The Sunbury Earthen Rings is a nine-hectare portion of land located at Correa Way, Sunbury, in Victoria. It contains two large earthen rings understood to be the site of Aboriginal ceremony activity. The amazing earthen rings at the Sunbury property may be more than 1,000 years old, and were an important part of traditional ceremonies for Wurundjeri people.

The Sunbury Earthen Rings and Mount William Axe Quarry sites are tangible reminders of the rich Indigenous culture that existed for thousands of years before European settlement in the area. That these two sites are now protected by a combination of Commonwealth and state Indigenous heritage protection laws is a wonderful result in itself, but the ceremony was about much more than that.

It is about land being returned to Indigenous hands, to be looked after for future generations—both Indigenous and non-Indigenous—by the local Indigenous communities.

Through the land management work of the Wurundjeri Tribe Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Inc, these sights continue to grow in importance as places of cultural and educational exchange. I would like to thank the traditional owners of the Wurundjeri people, and pay my respects to the elders, past and present, of the Wurundjeri nation. There were elders there of the Nevin, Wandin and Terrick families, who were all part of this event, and Graham Atkinson, the ILC director. As Minister Macklin said, 'We must work together in respecting, maintaining and strengthening Indigenous culture and heritage.'

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! In accordance with standing order 193 the time for constituency statements has concluded.