Pinjarra caravan park postponed for Aboriginal consultation

A proposed Pinjarra caravan park development bordering the Pinjarra Massacre site has been deferred for advice from the Aboriginal community. 

Land owners Jetstar Enterprises have applied to the Murray Shire Council for approval of short stay and permanent accommodation, consisting of 181 park home sites, 63 cabin sites, 76 camping sites and 40 caravan sites.

The land at Lot 460 South Western Highway abuts the southern boundary of the recognised Pinjarra Massacre heritage listed site, about two kilometres from the Pinjarra Town centre.

The 1834 Pinjarra battle led by Governor James Stirling killed dozens of Noongar people.

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Project planner acting on behalf of Jetstar Enterprises, Henry Dykstra, said the company commissioned a report that was drafted by Aboriginal heritage consultants, which is required for a heritage-listed land application.  

These consultants met with the Pinjarra Aboriginal community. 

Mr Dykstra said the report, given to the South West Land and Sea Council and the Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt, was approved.

It’s not appropriate to build a caravan park right next to a cemetery – a place of memories.

Binjareb elder Harry Nannup

“It’s quite a large report and there are aspects that are confidential,” he said. 

“The report finds whether there will be disturbance from this development and if it is going to affect Aboriginal heritage, and makes a recommendation.

“The minister had said it can proceed.”

At the October 25 Shire of Murray council meeting, Shire president David Bolt said he could not make an informed decision given councillors had not seen a copy of the report.

In the end though, the area will be developed.

Karrie-Anne Kearing

“We noticed you have heritage approval but I didn’t see a report in the application,” he said. 

“I don’t feel comfortable approving this without seeing the conditions given the area is of cultural significance.”

Binjareb elder Harry Nannup said he was involved in the consultation process and was not supportive of the development. 

“I am still not happy with it,” he said.

“It’s not appropriate to build a caravan park right next to a cemetery – a place of memories.

“There are a lot of other spots they could pick, surely.”

Karrie-Anne Kearing, who was also part of the consultation process, said the Noongar community sees the whole river as the massacre site. 

“In the end though, the area will be developed,” she said.

“There was always going to be some people who agree and some who don’t. 

“We approved it under the condition that there would be a memorial, or something similar, to acknowledge the massacre and for the employment opportunities it could offer our people.”

The Shire officers also stated concerns for visual and environmental impact. 

Council voted to defer the application until the next council meeting on November 22, to gain advice from the Environmental Protection Authority and to see the Aboriginal Heritage report.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt was contacted for comment.