Even beyond the beautiful water and stunning views, there’s something special about Tallebudgera Creek.
Jellurgal, or the Burleigh Head National Park, has long been considered a culturally significant and sacred place for Indigenous locals.
Yet on the shores of Tallebudgera Creek, near the bridge, are the remnants of what are believed to have been fish traps used by First Nations people prior to European settlement.
“People look at the rocks and they don’t see nothing, but Gold Coast people who do follow the culture … they notice it,” Yugambeh man Steve Cora, known as Uncle Steve to some in the community, said.
“Just when the Gold Coast was starting to get colonised the old fish trap was there, and that wasn’t long ago. That was only in the 1800s.”
But plans to build a second bridge across Tallebudgera Creek for the extension of the light rail south from Burleigh Heads, has raised concerns that the remnants of these stone traps could be disrupted.
‘We used to all get together’
Uncle Steve has been involved with education programs about Indigenous history and Tallebudgera Creek.
“We used to build all the rocks up and we’d make it into a U-shape and we’d have a little section there where the fish would come in and they’d be running out with the tide and they’d be trapped,” he said.
Uncle Steve said the broader Jellurgal area was an important gathering and ceremonial place.
“We used to always celebrate when all the food, at that certain time of the year, was plentiful around the mountain and around Tallebudgera Creek,” he said.
“That’s all the eight tribes in the seven rivers, we used to all get together.”
One of the traditional owners and director of the Yugambeh Museum, Rory O’Connor, said Jellurgal was “incredibly sacred”.
“Don’t put any more bridges close to Jellurgal or Burleigh Heads — it’s a place of our dreaming spirit,” he said.
“We don’t need any more encroachment on it. We’ve already put walkways through; we’ve ruined it enough. Just leave it alone.”
Mr O’Connor said he would prefer construction projects to focus more inland.
“Future generations, tourists from all around the world, will thank you that you’ve left this place sacred and with its dignity,” he said.
Significance ‘cannot be overstated’
The state government’s multi-model corridor study noted culturally significant “shell middens, fish traps and artefact sites on or along Tallebudgera Creek and within the Burleigh Head National Park”.
“The social/cultural significance of Burleigh Headland and its surrounds cannot be overstated,” the study noted.
“The sheer number of registered tangible and intangible cultural heritage sites in this area attest to this significance.”
A Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said the department recognised the cultural significance of the area.
“Preliminary cultural heritage assessments have been carried out,” the spokesperson said.
“Further detailed investigations and studies will be undertaken to ensure all culturally significant areas are identified and appropriately managed.
“As planning progresses, we will continue to work closely with members of the local Indigenous community and traditional owners to carefully identify and protect valued and unique cultural heritage sites along the alignment.”
Government should be ‘mindful’
Uncle Steve said that while he did not speak for all of the diverse Gold Coast community, he believed that the state government should take its time.
“The mindset has to change, we have a lot of stuff going on around the Gold Coast,” Uncle Steve said.
“Especially with Jellurgal, you have to be mindful. They’ve got to slow down and have a think about the ecosystem and how they’ll look after it.”
Uncle Steve said he was “mindful of both ways” in the debate about light rail’s future.
“A lot of people are for it but that’s OK,” he said.
“But as long as they be mindful with the Burleigh Hill, which is Jellurgal Hill, and our people, which is the Yugambeh people.
“We have a lot of stories here and we don’t want to see this all polluted and mucked up.”
The state government will begin community consultation for light rail stage four on Monday.
Thank you Dominic Cansdale for this great story and for looking after our Cultural Heritage.
Original article published on 10/07/2021: