ON SCENE: Police tape at the property where the bones were found in 2017.
ON SCENE: Police tape at the property where the bones were found in 2017. Keagan Elder

Sale ensures protection of ancestral burial site

A PROPERTY in Nambucca Heads where ancestral Aboriginal bones were discovered in 2017 has been purchased for $1.25 million.

The NSW Government acquired 21 Riverside Drive earlier this month to preserve and manage the site's Aboriginal heritage and protect it for public access.

It will become an extension of the foreshore park.

Terry Walker and Joanna Lockwood bought the picturesque property in July, 2017 with plans to build their dream home, but construction soon came to a halt in October when the bones were discovered.

The 1480m2 property at 21 Riverside Dr, Nambucca Heads, sold for $1.25-million on March 4.
The 1480m2 property at 21 Riverside Dr, Nambucca Heads, sold for $1.25-million on March 4. Corelogic

They have since been identified as those of a young man (14-16 years) dating back some 620 to 750 years.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment has confirmed more bones have been found on the land and it's possible there may be more burials. There is also a shell midden there.

Nambucca Shire Council General Manager Michael Coulter has praised all parties involved in the negotiations.

"Council had minimal involvement really. I'm impressed with the way the previous owners and traditional elders came together to achieve such a wonderful outcome.

"It's really an unusual situation. The previous owners purchased the property in good faith to build their dream home. They've carried substantial costs for a long time but not withstanding they've had the patience, perseverance and good faith working with the elders to help achieve this outcome.

Buagin at his tent embassy on the  Nambucca river. 28 JAN 2019
Construction came to a halt in October 2017. TREVOR VEALE

"It really is a beautiful spot - probably one of the best in the Nambucca Valley,” Mr Coulter said.

Council has set aside $40,000 for the re-internment of the bones and interpretive signage with ongoing plans to be made in consultation with Gumbaynggirr Elders.

The purchase was made under the Coastal Land Protection Scheme - a long-running NSW Government initiative that, since 1973, has been acquiring coastal land for public benefit.

”This land is an important part of the area's history and we want to ensure the local Aboriginal community is at the heart of future decisions for the site,” a NSW Department of Planning and Environment spokesperson said.

The Nambucca Heads Local Aboriginal Land Council has been contacted for comment.