Bypass won't be delayed by indigenous site: TMR

Toowoomba Second Range Crossing Mort St - Hermitage Rd.
An artist's impression of the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing at Mort St - Hermitage Rd. Contributed

THE Toowoomba Second Range Crossing will not be delayed despite concerns by an indigenous group that a culturally significant site will be damaged, the Queensland Government has said.

An Aboriginal heritage consultancy group yesterday said a signalling station of cultural significance in the Helidon Hills area lay in the proposed path of the crossing.

Jagera Daran crossing project manager James Bonner, a member of the Jagera people, called for the government to adjust the route of the crossing to protect the site.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads is managing the project and says the project will not be delayed.

A spokesman said the department had engaged an independent archaeologist to ensure any cultural heritage claims or concerns regarding the crossing corridor were properly recognised and looked after.

"The archaeologist has drafted a report that indicates there is currently no evidence to support claims that an ancient 'lookout' exists within the corridor alignment.

"There are currently no delays expected to the project."

The spokesman said the department would continue to work with traditional owners during construction of the project, which will be build by the Nexus Infrastructure consortium

"We recognise the significance of different cultures and the importance of managing Indigenous, historical, shared and natural heritage on our projects."

The department is currently in the final stages of survey and mitigation works in preparation for the crossing project.

"As part of this, we are working with traditional owners that have an interest in the TSRC corridor - the Western Wakka Wakka people and the Jagera people," a spokesman said.

The department says there have been a number of artefacts found in the corridor to date, including stone tools at ancient campsites and scarred trees where bark has been removed to make things such as coolamons, a multi-purpose, shallow vessel or dish.

"Artefacts identified during the current detailed investigations with the Western Wakka Wakka people are assessed and analysed by the Traditional Owners and archaeologists, and are then stored on-site.

"These findings, including their locations, are used to detail the extent of Cultural Heritage in the TSRC corridor.

"When the report is finished, the artefacts will be relocated to places nominated by the traditional owners - usually 'back on country'."

The alleged culturally significant site in Helidon was used by indigenous Australians during wars against the Europeans who were settling in Australia, according to Mr Bonner.

He likened any damage to the site to cultural vandalism.

"It's like us wanting to go into Toowoomba and knock down the first building ever built or running over people's graves," he said.

Mr Bonner said the fact that the lookout allowed for 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside was evidence enough that it had been used by indigenous Australians.

Aboriginal and Cultural Heritage consultancy group Jagera Daran has been commissioned by the Queensland Government to study the area where the crossing will pass. Photo: Jagera Daran.