Islander cemetery lot removal stirs Joe into action
WALKING across the corner of Bluebell Rd East and Genrich Rd in Tinana, elder Selwin 'Joe' Eggmolesse knows there is something underneath his feet.
"You could walk across the site and not know what's underneath," he certifies.
Which is why he's up in arms over the latest decision from the Fraser Coast Regional Council to remove part of the lot from the Local Heritage Register.
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A motion to remove Lot 2 of 38a Bluebell Rd East from the Register, citing lack of archaeological evidence to justify the listing, was carried 7-4 at the meeting.
Mr Eggmolesse said he was "disappointed" in the motion, as part of the site was originally the location of a small hospital and cemetery for the local South Sea Islander population in 1883, established at a time when they were denied access to medical facilities by the Maryborough Hospital Board.
He is adamant that Islanders were buried at the cemetery, and wants archaeological research conducted to find ceremonial burial items between the different lots on the site.
"I'm disappointed at the removal; the concern is that possible ceremonies could have been held there, and artefacts might be buried in the ground," he said.
"For those people that say there's no burial on that site; I have records that show 270 people who died at the hospital. This is (all) in historical documents.
"People need to go back and do research...we want to look at the preservation of historical artefacts and things of historical significance."
The South Sea Islander Hospital and Cemetery was entered into the Heritage Register as part of a listing in July 2011, but the four lots are now freehold, with Lot 1 containing a house and Lot 2 containing a shed.
A council report stated that insufficient evidence would demonstrate that the removed lot "would yield archaeological potential that would meet the Local Heritage Significance Criteria."
But deputy mayor George Seymour, who voted against the motion, stated the site was still very relevant in terms of history.
"It's very important in terms of recognising what they've done for the region - they were brought for intensive labour to work in sugar here; taken from homes in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, and brought to work under very tough conditions," he said.
"We need to do more to elevate the role of the South Sea Islander population in our history...(and) with the 150th anniversary of their arrival in Maryborough, it's a good year to start recognising."
A spokesperson from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection said no investigation into the archaeological evidence on the site had been undertaken, an Queensland Heritage Register application was required for assessment.
"EHP assesses each application it receives on its merit and then makes a recommendation to the Queensland Heritage Council that decides which places are entered in the Queensland Heritage Register," the spokesperson said.