Butchulla elder, Aunty Mally Clarke was with Conway Burns explained that the location has always been considered a place to gather and reflect.
Butchulla elder, Aunty Mally Clarke was with Conway Burns explained that the location has always been considered a place to gather and reflect. Valerie Horton

'Our heritage could be lost from Seafront': Butchulla elder

MALLY Clarke remembers when Seafront Oval was an indigenous corroboree ground and cooking site.

But the latest development at the oval, under the council's Master Plan for the Pialba Esplanade, could have that heritage disappear.

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The Butchulla elder wants the proposed development of the Pialba adventure playground and subsequent reshaping of Seafront Oval halted to preserve the site's historical significance to the local indigenous population.

Aunty Mally said it was significant in their lives, saying their ancestors would swim from K'gari (Fraser Island) to the corroboree ground.

"It's a very special area for us, not only here but up at Dayman Point as well. We want it left alone," she said.

Concept plans for a $900,000 adventure playground on Seafront Oval, funded by the State Government, were revealed last week by Fraser Coast Regional Council.

Aunty Mally and her nephew, Conway Burns, were two of about 60 people to protest the development at a community consultation session on Saturday.

Mr Burns said Seafront Oval was a "sacred and special" place for the Butchulla.

"The coolooloi (Cypress Pines) are sacred to us... seeing them removed will mean loss of heritage for us," he said.

"We also have spiritual connection to the girraman (flying fox) population in the area. We channel our messages through them.

"Pialba means 'place of mullet' in Butchulla dialect, because of the saltpans. My father and his family used to go mullet fishing out there.

"It would be devastating for us... to lose that history, that culture."

 

Under the council's new development plan, an estimated 30% of the oval could be lost to the combined playground, carpark and skatepark. A total of $3.5 million has been earmarked for the area.

Seafront Oval development update: Cr Denis Chapman talks about the development update at Seafront Oval.

Cr Chapman said the plan would go back to the council for further discussion, but ruled out the development being cancelled.

"It's state government funding... it might need to be re-examined, but the playground is still going ahead," Cr Chapman said.

But he said he would listen to all the concerns of the community, including those raised by the Butchulla elders.

"I respect their traditions and thoughts. We're all trying to preserve the area, and we (the council) want to address anyone's concerns."

Cr Darren Everard said to his knowledge, the area concerning the Butchulla people "would not be impacted by the development."