Mosman’s first Aboriginal Keeping Place could be established at Middle Head under one woman’s plan to save the headland from development and retain it for the community
MOSMAN residents have implored their federal MP, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, to halt a move which would alienate public open space at Middle Head.
By Emma Page
MIDDLE Head could become the site of Mosman’s first Aboriginal Keeping Place, housing an important collection of indigenous art and artefacts, under a plan to revitaliae the headland.
The radical idea has arisen in response to community backlash to a current development application to build a 93-room, aged-care facility at the site.
Greenwich resident Josephine Cashman, an Aboriginal lawyer and entreprenuer, said the former defence site would be better used as a public museum honouring Australia’s Traditional landowners.
She added there were more than 3000 Aboriginal people on Sydney’s north shore who would benefit from having a cultural centre at the site of Bungaree’s Farm – the first land grant to Aboriginal people by Govenor (Lachlan) Macquarie.
“This site is incredible. Not only is it one of the sites of first contact, but there are Aboriginal carvings, middens and other evidence of occupation within metres of the proposed development” Ms Cashman said.
The Keeping Place would house contemporary and unban Aboriginal paintings, photographs, as well as Aboriginal artefacts.
The Healing Centre would invite both non-indigenous and Aboriginal people to learn about Aboriginal culture and understand the problems indigenous Australians face today.
Ms Cashman said her proposal was in keeping with the aims and objectives of the Harbour Trust – to maximise public access to its sites and retain the cultural and historical significance of buildings.
GROUP OUTRAGED OVER DEVELOPMENT PLAN
From page 01 MOSMAN residents have implored their federal MP, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, to halt a move which would alienate public open space at Middle Head.
Picture: BRADEN FASTIER David Briggs, Marta Sengers and David Weekes at Middle Head.
Residents are outraged over a current plan to build an aged-care facility at a former defence site on Middle Head, saying it would result in the overdevelopment of the headland.
Mr Abbott (under the Howard Government) played a pivotal role in the formation of the Harbour Trust – a federal government body established in 2001 to maximise public access to the headland and preserve the site’s heritage.
However, Middle Head Rd resident David Briggs said the Trust could no longer be relied upon to stick to its charter.
“This plan changes the whole footprint of the area, traffic congestion will snowball – an aged care home is out of character with the precinct,” Mr Briggs said.
“This calls for Mr Abbott to examine what’s happening under his nose.”
There were also moves to resuscitate the now defunct Headland Preservation Group, which operated from 1996-2001, to ensure Middle Head was not sold to private development and ensure the Trust kept its promise to maintain the land as open space.
The group’s founding member Linda Bergin said the recent proposal would damage the natural and cultural heritage of Middle Head.
“It is the first time a new development (rather than an adaptive reuse) would occur. This would create a dangerous precedent going into the future,” Ms Bergin said.
The proposal, which would cost more than $33 million, is for 93 residents and a 15-person dementia day care facility.
Mosman Mayor Peter Abelson said he supported the idea of a quiet aged-care facility but flagged concerns about its scale.