A GROUP representing Grampians’ traditional owners is upset and angry after vandals defaced an area of the national park.
Barengi Gadjin Land Council has lodged a native title claim for the park and said it was devastating someone had tagged a rockface only 100 metres from a significant Aboriginal cultural heritage site.
The land council’s Registered Aboriginal Party manager Darren Griffin said the offenders did likely not know the significance of the area and could have easily destroyed historic rock art.
“It’s like defacing a church,” he said.
“The problem is they don’t realise how important the Grampians cultural landscape is.
“They might do damage to a really important Aboriginal site and we won’t be able to fix it.
“The graffiti is near probably the best and most renowned rock art in Victoria, which puts it on a world stage of cultural heritage importance.”
Parks Victoria chief ranger David Roberts said the graffiti occurred two weeks ago on a shelf in the high mountain area of the northern Grampians.
Mr Griffin said the whole of the Grampians National Park had great significance to indigenous groups.
“All rocks were used by Aboriginal people in the past,” he said.
“It’s an important spiritual place for all groups around the Grampians.
“It’s just terrible and disgusting.”
Mr Griffin said the sites were part of the story and heritage of all Australians.
“We haven’t had anything like this in a long time. We thought everyone knew,” he said.
“It’s generally accepted people can go put tags and marks down at Sister’s Rock on the highway but other sites definitely are off limits.”
Mr Griffin said after amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act, offenders faced a minimum penalty of $9000.
He said it was important the penalties were enforced to protect history that could not be recovered if destroyed.
Mr Roberts said those involved also faced fines of $777 for defacing archaeological or historical remains or interfering with rocks in a park and possible criminal or willful damage charges.
“It defies belief that someone could desecrate the area in this way,” he said.
- Anyone with information is asked to contact Parks Victoria on 131 963 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000