ON SCENE: Police remain outside a Nambucca Heads property on Riverside Dr where skeletal remains were found.
ON SCENE: Police remain outside a Nambucca Heads property on Riverside Dr where skeletal remains were found. Keagan Elder

Elders want to see 750-year-old bones returned to the earth

NAMBUCCA Valley Aboriginal Elders have today called for ancestral remains that were uncovered on a local house site to be returned to the earth.

The bones, which have been dated to be around 750 years old, were excavated next to a Riverside Dr home, as it was undergoing renovation last October.

Since the discovery the skeletal remains have been handed over to the Office of Environment and Heritage and then sent to archaeologists at the Department of Forensic Medicine in Glebe, as well as the University of Waikato Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory.

Testing found the bones were approximately 750 years old, and DNA analysis conducted by the Adelaide University Australia Centre for Ancient DNA confirmed the remains were definitely Aboriginal, ancestrally linked to Nambucca's resident Gumbaynggirr people.

In a tricky situation, the landowners have plans to continue to redevelop the Riverside Dr property that they own.

However, Gumbaynggirr elders have today called for the skeletal remains to be returned to country and reburied.

There are also calls for the site to be recognised for its cultural and heritage significance.

"At the moment, the elders are still attempting to find out where the bones are located now," Nambucca resident Leon Petrou said.

"They want to see the bones reburied at this sacred site.

"Under Aboriginal custom they should be returned to the specific site where they were found.

"There have even been questions asked as to whether the site should undergo testing for more skeletal remains.

"This could be a mass burial site.

"The bones were found 10-metres from the river in a culturally significant sacred site, it's one of the largest middens sites in New South Wales."

To put the age of the bones into context, 750 years is just a blip on the ancient Gumbaynggirr timeline but elsewhere at that time the Magna Carta had just been signed, William Wallace was rebelling against the British, The Khan dynasty ruled most of Central Asia, the Ottoman Empire was in its infancy and Marco Polo was just setting off to China.

When the bones were first uncovered by land moving contractors, police were called and the area was cordoned off by the Homicide Squad, before it was determined the bones pre-dated European settlement.