ABORIGINAL groups from across Australia are expected to arrive in Newcastle next month to protest about the disturbance of Aboriginal remains and artefacts along the truncated rail corridor.
Awabakal Aboriginal Land Council deputy chairman Richard Green accused the state government of deliberately ignoring the local indigenous community’s concerns about the area’s cultural significance.
‘‘I have been contacted by all of the land councils in the Hunter and beyond who are worried about what is going on down there,’’ Mr Green said.
‘‘It’s not just Aboriginal people either; people from all parts of the community are concerned.’’
Mr Green said the rally, planned for the second week of February, would start in Hunter Street and proceed to Customs House.
Awabakal has a registered land claim on the corridor between Newcastle and Wickham.
If successful, the claim could potentially delay any development on the site.
Awabakal chief executive Steven Slee there were two well-known sacred Aboriginal sites within 30metres of Wickham train station.
‘‘The government’s archaeologist recommended that test pits be dug before any work took place. That has been totally ignored,’’ Mr Slee said.
He will meet with the land council’s Aboriginal sites officer on Monday to discuss possible disturbance of artefacts in the area.
‘‘If there is evidence that breaches have occurred we will take the matter up with the Office of Environment and Heritage,’’ Mr Slee said.
A Transport for NSW spokesman said the Awabakal Land Council had been contacted as part of an application for an Aboriginal heritage impact permit required for test excavations planned for February.
“All Registered Aboriginal parties have been given the opportunity to inform the project of any issues regarding cultural significance,’’ the spokesman said.
‘‘Representatives will also be able to participate in the archaeological test excavations.’’
Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp said it was essential an Aboriginal archaeologist be involved prior to and during any excavation work.
‘‘The whole rail line lies on a strip of land that has major cultural significance for Aboriginal people as it has both ceremonial and burial sites along it,’’ Mr Crakanthorp said.
‘‘The KFC excavation on Hunter street revealed some 5700 artefacts.’’