Indigenous graves near river moved
A total of 70 graves containing the remains of Aboriginal people buried on an eroding bank of Fitzroy River have been exhumed.
They were within the Fitzroy Crossing Pioneer Cemetery, a registered Aboriginal site.
A number of indigenous people were buried in the nongazetted section of the cemetery between 1908 and 1994, and the area was used as a burial place at least until the 1980s.
The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage is managing the process in partnership with the Aboriginal community of Fitzroy Crossing, the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre and the Shire of Derby/West Kimberley.
DPLH said all excavation and exhumation works were completed by December and positively identified remains had been transferred to KALACC for handling.
Backfilling and rehabilitation work at the cemetery has also been completed.
DPLH said with the onset of the wet season, the reinterment of exhumed remains would resume in the new year in consultation with elders and KALACC.
The Fitzroy Crossing Aboriginal Community has expressed it would like to hold a single reinterment ceremony for exhumed remains once the wet season had passed.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt said it was an important project for the local Aboriginal community and he was pleased to see it progressing well. “I congratulate those who have been managing the project so well up to this point and look forward to its successful conclusion,” he said.
A qualified archaeologist has been engaged to remove remains considered most atrisk, which were being held in a storage facility.
DPLH expected the majority of the remains would be reinterred at the Fitzroy Crossing Cemetery. The Fitzroy Valley Men’s Shed has been asked to construct coffins for the bones.
A wide angle shot gives perspective of the distance between the burial ground and the river.
A broad view of the excavation site.