Visitors to an ocean pool by Cottesloe’s groyne could drop dead, an Aboriginal elder told councillors on Tuesday night.
Margaret Gidgup was dressed in a banner painted with black crows when she warned councillors about building a pool at Mudurup Rocks, which she said was a special indigenous site.
“Tourists will start to desecrate the rocks,” Ms Gidgup said.
“Many people will start to feel ill – some may drop dead.”
Ms Gidgup, her father Ron, and Iva Hayward-Jackson brought an Aboriginal flag into the mayor’s parlour as they shared their worries about what could happen to the Rocks and the lack of consultation they believed the council had about the pool.
“We are the custodians of Mudurup Rocks,” Ms Gidgup said.
“Cottesloe council has disre- spected our connection to the Rocks.
“You value nothing that, on a whim, you like to destroy.”
Before Ms Gidgup’s statement Mr Hayward-Jackson gave a welcome to country.
“I apologise: I don’t know how you white fellas do it,” he said.
After telling the meeting they were on Bibbulmun land, Mr Hayward-Jackson said: “Welcome to our country.”
Acting mayor Mark Rodda said: “Thank you.”
Mr Hayward-Jackson said he had lived in the western suburbs his whole life after being born in a tent at the back of Subiaco hospital in 1964.
He said the cave near the Cottesloe groyne was of paramount importance to Aboriginal people.
“Don’t make the same mistake Mosman Park made, by putting rocks in their cave,” he said.
“They broke the law.”
“This land can’t take much more of this.
“We’ve all got to live together – come on, people!”
He said non-Aboriginal people treated money like a god.
Mr Gidgup said the group had visited Mudurup Rocks a few hours before the meeting.
“It was strange,” he said. “Two crows came in from the sea.”
“The Rocks are where Johnny Kudjil used to camp in the 1800s.
“He was jailed on Rottnest but flew back [to the Rocks] as a crow.
“He’s here today, living with our family.”
Mr Gidgup appealed to councillors to protect the cave.
“You could do anything around it, but we must have that cave there,” he said.
Ms Gidgup said a cultural Aboriginal experience would be better for the site than a pool.
“Tourists from overseas: that’s what they want to see and hear,” she said.
“You’ll make money.” Councillor Lorraine Young asked the elders if they knew a Town consultant had been appointed several months ago to find out from indigenous people what they thought about the pool.
Ms Gidgup said: “We weren’t aware ,... your consultant didn’t consult.”
With the elders were Cottesloe residents and anthropologists Barb Dobson and Ken McIntyre.
Mr McIntyre said there was “oodles of information” already available to the town on the significance of the pool site to indigenous people.
“We’ve sent papers to the council; it’s on websites,” he said.
Ms Gidgup asked: “Who do we write to?”
Town CEO Mat Humfrey said: “That would be me.”
Last week the proposed pool was left high and dry at a council meeting.
The recommendation in front of councillors was to approve spending $76,000 on stage two of a feasibility study for the south-of-the-groyne pool.
But after narrowly voting against a bid to not go ahead with any study, councillors and staff forgot to go back to the recommendation.
Mudurup message … Iva Hayward-Jackson, left, Ron Gidgup, Margaret Gidgup, and Ken McIntyre beforeTuesday night’s Cottesloe council meeting.