Jetty land claim set to go ahead
THE Aboriginal land claim over historic Ferguson's Cottage at the Jetty should be resolved in the next few months.
Nathan Brennan, Chief Executive Officer for the Coffs Harbour and District LALC (Local Aboriginal Land Council) is confident it will be granted in their favour and believes this will happen within the next six months.
"We have a land claim on the cottage, and the site where it sits, and we have been told informally that there is no reason why it won't go through," Mr Brennan said.
"Then it will come into the Land Council's holding and we will look to manage the site in terms of ongoing heritage and liaise with the families that have connections to it."
It's currently considered Crown Land and managed by the NSW Department of Industry.
The ownership of the land and cottage has been in limbo for many years and Mr Brennan is looking forward to seeing it resolved and says there are a number of other parcels of Crown Land in the Jetty area which are eligible for claims under the Land Rights Act.
"We will do our due diligence to see if there are opportunities to claim those parcels of land and look at ways of deriving an economic benefit from that land, whether we retain it or develop it ourselves, or if we use it for tourism purposes or in other ways that fit in with the whole precinct."
Mr Brennan says he is not aware of specific plans to develop the site of the former Deep Sea Fishing Club which is in very close proximity to Ferguson's Cottage.
There has been growing speculation in the community about the overall plans for the Jetty Foreshore and in recent weeks Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh travelled to Sydney seeking answers on the long-awaited redevelopment project.
Speculation includes talk of a high rise development in the vicinity of the former Deep Sea Fishing Club.
The old club site is currently the subject of a short-term lease to not-for-profit Regional Ethical Development (RED) Community.
"As long as the cottage is protected that's the main thing. We're not going to stop development," Mr Brennan said.
Ferguson's Cottage is sometimes referred to as the house of reconciliation.
It was the first building of Aboriginal importance to be added to the NSW Heritage List in 2009.
The one-time home of highly regarded Aboriginal elders, the late Andrew and Evelyn "Nanny" Ferguson, the cottage has served as a haven for Aboriginal people since the 1950s.
The cottage was given to Andrew and Evelyn by the Department of Public Works when Andrew was acting as a caretaker during the building of the breakwall.
Evelyn 'Granny' Ferguson went on to be recognised for her tireless work in caring for Aboriginal children and dealing with the social pressures and racism of the 1950s and '60s.
A pioneer in many aspects of local Aboriginal life Granny Ferguson provided a much-needed bridge between the Aboriginal and white communities.
One of her particular strengths was her ability to solve problems within the community before they got out of hand.