The Fight to Save Illowra ("Hill 60")

Aboriginal Land at Port Kembla

The Illowra / Red Point / "Hill 60" Department of Defence land offered for sale by tender in July 2006 is indicated in red. It can be clearly seen from this view that the large parcel of land - 6.3 ha - is an important and substantial element of the Hill 60 area and a logical extension to the present Hill 60 Park.

Illowra (Red Point, Ti-tree Hill or Hill 60) at Port Kembla is a site of immense cultural and spiritual significance to the Aboriginal people of the Illawarra region of New South Wales, Australia. Occupied and made use of for thousands of years, it is dotted with middens and burial sites, tangible evidence of its role in the everyday life of the local people. It is also a site of storytelling and ceremony. As a result, concerted efforts over two centuries by non-Aboriginal Australians to force the local Indigenous people to sever their connection with this area have proven unsuccessful.

A significant section of the site - 6.3 ha - was offered for sale by the Australian Department of Defence in May 2006 to Wollongong City Council. When Council management rejected the offer, it was placed on the open market in July, with tenders closing on 9 August. As soon as the sale details were made public on 12 July a community campaign was begun, calling on the Minister for Defence to withdraw the land from sale and hand it back to the Aboriginal community, from whom it was forcibly taken in September 1942.

The process of preparing this parcel of Crown land for sale by the Department of Defence was shrouded in secrecy up to that point. Subsequent statements in the media by the Department clearly misrepresent the cultural and environmental heritage values of the site, downplaying its obvious significance.

The following is a collection of material relating to the campaign, along with an historical chronology of the site and related references. The most recent information is presented first.


* 5 November 2006 - Wollongong City Council moves motion to begin process of dealing with Hill 60 land.

Wollongong City Council Minutes - 5 November 2006 - Item 1 - Notice of Motion - Councillor Jonovski

REQUEST FOR INVESTIGATION INTO THE FEASIBILITY OF REZONING LAND OWNED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE ADJACENT TO HILL 60 AT PORT KEMBLA (PR61248) - REPORT OF ADMIN AND IT (LEJ) 25/10/06

323 Resolved on the motion of Councillor Jonovski seconded Councillor Esen that in line with Council’s policy to protect cultural heritage assets across the City of Wollongong the Manager City Strategy be requested to undertake the following actions –

1 Submit to the December 2006 Environment and Planning Committee a report that commences the process to investigate the rezoning of land owned by the Department of Defence on Military Road, Port Kembla from 2(a) (Low Density Residential Zone) to RE1 Public Recreation Zone.

2 Write to the Department of Defence informing them of Council’s decision and commence discussions with regard to Council’s proposed rezoning.

3 Provide a progress report to the February 2007 Environment and Planning Committee.


* 26 October 2006 - The battle is almost won!!!!!! Terrific news!!!!

SENATOR CONCETTA FIERRAVANTI – WELLS LIBERAL SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES

SENATOR THE HON. SANDY MACDONALD PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE MINISTER FOR DEFENCE DEPUTY LEADER OF THE NATIONALS IN THE SENATE

MEDIA RELEASE

Federal Government offers Hill 60 Defence Site to Wollongong City Council for $1.00

Illawarra based Liberal Senator, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Senator Sandy Macdonald, today announced that the fight to save the former Hill 60 Defence site at Port Kembla had been won.

Senator Fierravanti-Wells outlined that the former Hill 60 Defence site would be offered to Wollongong City Council as a concessional sale following strong community representations.

“As a result of the Federal Government listening to community concerns the Government has decided to offer the Defence site at Port Kembla to Wollongong City Council under concessional priority sale guidelines.” Senator Fierravanti-Wells said.

“I will soon write to the Lord Mayor offering the property to Council for a notional $1.00 for incorporation in the Hill 60 Park area which Council manages on behalf of the NSW Government. This will enhance the protection of the heritage values of the surrounding area,” Senator Macdonald said.

“Council will be required to rezone the property for conversion to open space for community use and accept the standard Defence contract clauses accepting the property on an as is, where is basis. I am confident that Council will accept the Federal Government’s generous offer,” Senator Fierravanti-Wells said.

Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells praised the local Port Kembla community for expressing their concerns to her about the original sale and for contributing to this final decision.

“As someone who grew up in Port Kembla I am well aware that there was a large level of community concern about the proposed sale. The Federal Government has listened to the local community and has given the land back to the community for public use,” Senator Fierravanti-Wells said.


* 10 October 2006, Tuesday - Senator Kerrie Nettle, Australian Greens, to Senator Ian Campbell, Minister for the Environment and Heritage. Answered as follows:

Questions on Notice - Defence Land (Question No. 2423)

Senator Nettle (New South Wales) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 21 August 2006:

With reference to the land known as Hill 60 at Port Kembla, New South Wales:

(1) Is the Minister aware of any agreements, formal or informal, written or unwritten, implied or direct, made with aboriginal people regarding their removal (at the time of the Second World War) from and possible return to, this land.

(2) Will the Minister honour the agreements made with aboriginal people, at the time of their removal from this land, in relation to their promised return to the land at the end of the Second World War.

(3) Will the Minister agree to the deferment of the intended sale of the departmentally owned land, until the issues of ownership, significance and as yet unfulfilled agreements are discussed and resolved with aboriginal elders.

(4) Will the Minister meet with aboriginal elders and members of the Port Kembla community to discuss and resolve issues of ownership, significance and unfulfilled agreements, relating to this land.

Senator Ian Campbell (Western Australia—Minister for the Environment and Heritage)—The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1) No.

(2) There does not appear to be any evidence that an agreement was made. Legal advice is that native title has been extinguished.

(3) The Government is considering its options regarding the future of the site including possible ongoing public ownership.

(4) Community concerns have been clearly expressed to the Government and will be considered in deliberations on the future of the site


* 25 August 2006, Friday - Illawarra Mercury - letter to the editor

Over the Hill

Many thanks to our local Liberal Senator Fierravanti-Wells for supporting the campaign to save Hill 60.

Her recent announcement concerning the failure of the tender process opens the door for a possible handing back of the Defence Department land to the local community.

Hill 60 is one of the most spectacular areas of our coastline and combined with its Aboriginal significance, military heritage and environmental values, is a prime candidate for public ownership.

Let's hope that future generations can continue to enjoy the area and that some form of recognition of its indigenous heritage can also be put in place.

Michael Organ, Bulli


* 23 August 2006, Wednesday - Illawarra Mercury - article by Sarah Allely

Hill 60 land sale falls through

After the Federal Government's failed attempt to sell land at Hill 60, politicians and community members are calling for the Defence Department to guarantee the land is protected. Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells called a press conference at Hill 60 yesterday to announce the "future sale was now in doubt". Federal Throsby MP Jennie George said the Government needed to withdraw the land from private sale.

Since the For Sale signs were seen on land south-west of the summit in July, the movement to stop the sale has gained momentum. Indigenous elders, concerned community members and politicians mounted a campaign to save the land they said had strong cultural and heritage significance.

The former Army Reserve depot and drill hall in Military Rd is a 6302sqm property zoned medium-density residential, suitable for villas, flats and houses. But a Defence Department spokeswoman said no compliant tenders were received and the Government was considering options for the future of the site.

Senator Fierravanti-Wells said several tenders arrived after the August 9 deadline. One on time was unsuitable. She congratulated the community for its lobbying efforts, but encouraged people to continue protesting.

"I am concerned that the Department of Defence's heritage assessments did not identify any significant heritage or indigenous values associated with the site ...," she said.

Advice from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Sandy Macdonald, led her to make the announcement.

"The effect of the advice is that the sale is in doubt. I'm not aware of another tender process."

A spokeswoman for Sen Macdonald said at this stage there was no sale as the tender process had closed. Uncle Reuben Brown said he wanted a guarantee the land would return to traditional indigenous owners for preservation.


22 August 2006, Tuesday - Media Release by Senator Fierravanti-Wells

Hill 60 sale in doubt following representations by Senator Fierravanti-Wells and no compliant tenders received

Illawarra based Liberal Senator, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, today announced that following representations to the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence and other Ministers, considerable public opposition to the sale and given that no conforming tenders were received for the site adjacent to Hill 60, the future sale was now in doubt.

"I have been advised by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Senator Sandy Macdonald, that no compliant tenders were received by the Department in relation to their site adjacent to Hill 60."

"As a result the future of Defence land at Hill 60 is yet to be decided following advice that the recent tender process failed to attract a buyer," Senator Fierravanti-Wells said.

"Prospective purchasers were clearly put off by the demonstration of public support against the Department's sale of the land and I congratulate those who spoke out against the sale," Senator Fierravanti-Wells said.

"This is a terrific outcome for the people who fought to stop the sale of the site."

Senator Fierravanti-Wells called on the local community to continue making their voices heard about the site's future with the Defence Department now undecided about the site.

"Senator Macdonald has told me that he will shortly consider a number of options with respect to the Department of Defence's future ownership of the site and he has asked me for suggestions. I have told him that I would like to see the site protected and retained in some form of ownership that will benefit the public and pay due respect to the important heritage and indigenous values of the land," Senator Fierravanti-Wells said.

Senator Fierravanti-Wells reaffirmed her committment to having the site retained for some sort of public ownership, and recognised the important connection with the local indigenous community.

"I am concerned that the Department of Defence's heritage assessments did not identify any significant heritage or indigenous values associated with the site and am waiting for advice from a number of sources which I hope to use to support my arguments that the site should be kept for public ownership," Senator Fierravanti-Wells said.


* 17 August 2006, Thursday - Senator Sandy Macdonald to Jennie George MHR

The Government clarifies the circumstances of the sale

Letter from Senator Sandy Macdonald, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence and Deputy Leader of the Nationals in the Senate, to Jennie George, Member for Throsby. Letter dated 9 August 2006. Received 17 August 2006.

Dear Ms George

Thank you for your letter of 13 July 2006 to the Minister for Defence, the Hon Dr Brendan Nelson, MP, concerning the Government's proposal to sell Defence land at Port Kembla, adjacent to Hill 60, in Wollongong, NSW, without advising you of the sale. As this matter falls within my portfolio responsibilities, your correspondence has been passed to me for response.

It is normal practice to advise the local Federal Member prior to a surplus Defence property being placed on the open market. Regrettably, due to an administrative oversight, this property was included with the sale of another in an adjoining electorate and the letter was inadvertently sent to the wrong Federal Member.

The property at Port Kembla has been vacant for some time and, as all the due diligence studies have now been completed, was placed on the open market in accordance with the Commonwealth Property Disposals Policy, a copy of which is enclosed for your information. Government policy is that all surplus Commonwealth property is to be sold on the open market at full market value. There are exceptions to this general policy, whereby a property may be sold without first being offered on the open market, directly to a State or Local Government. This can only occur where such a sale would facilitate other Commonwealth or cooperative policy objectives, which could not be met under an open market sale or where such a sale would protect other Commonwealth Property interests. Another exception to the general policy is where a Commonwealth funded organisation seeks special consideration in the disposal process in order to facilitate Commonwealth policy objectives.

On 8 May 2006, I wrote to the Lord Mayor of Wollongong City Council inviting Council to advise if it wished to submit an application for a priority sale of this property, and another in the Wollongong area.

Wollongong City Council responded n 15 May 2006 stating that 'Council does not have an interest in making application for a priority sale .....' and that 'Accordingly, Council would support the Department of Defence proceeding with the disposal of these properties in the normal manner.'

Following the advice from Wollongong City Council that it did not have an interest in submitting an application for a priority sale for the property, Defence proceeded with placing it on the open market in accordance with the Commonwealth Property Disposals Policy.

I note your request that I intervene and stop the sale of the land and undertake further discussions with the community representatives. I also note your view that the Defence site should remain in public ownership and be used as a focal point in commemoration of the region's indigenuos history. The Defence site is adjacent to the much larger Hill 60 site, which is owned by Council and includes a lookout and picnic area. Maps of the two sites are enclosed. I am advised the due diligence studies conducted on the Defence site identified no significant heritage values, environmental or indigenous values. Therefore, recognition of indigenous values would seem to rest more appropriately at the Hill 60 site.

I hope this information will clarify the situation for you.

Yours sincerely, Sandy Macdonald


* 17 August 2006, Thursday - Press release by Reuben Brown.

Aboriginal Elder calls for urgent rezoning of Hill 60 Port Kembla

Wollongong Aboriginal elder Reuben Brown today called on Wollongong City Council (WCC) to urgently rezone and protect land being sold by the Commonwealth Department of Defence at Hill 60, Port Kembla.

"They rezoned it back in 1990 from environmental protection to residential development. I call for them to urgently rezone it back to environmental protection," said Reuben Brown.

This call by Mr Brown follows a decision by the Department of Defence to sell land at Hill 60 by a tender process. Tenders closed on the 9 August 2006 and are currently being considered.

"This is land which belongs to my people. We lived on it for years until thrown off by the military. They promised to give it back after WWII."

As recently as last week the NSW Premier Morris Iemma and Minister for Planning Frank Sartor announced a 25 year planning vision for Wollongong.

The Draft Illawarra Regional Strategy 2006-31 includes a statement that "....Specific landforms associated with Aboriginal cultural values will also be protected.....such as Hill 60....The aim will be to protect Aboriginal cultural values." (page 34)

On 24 July 2006 at a full meeting Council passed a resolution that: "......Council liaise with the local Aboriginal community and others to build a case for listing Hill 60 on the New South Wales Heritage Register or support for a Native Title Claim."

"Therefore, if WCC (and the State Government) is supporting Heritage listing on protecting our land it should urgently take steps to rezone it urgently back to environmental protection."

"I understand in May this year the Department of Defence contacted Wollongong City Council giving it the opportunity to purchase the land for the community before it went on the open market through a priority sale."

I am calling on WCC to urgently release details of the offer to purchase the land by the Department of Defence.

"That is, who in Council made decisions about this and was it a decision of full Council?"

"Were figures discussed for the purchase and if so, the public has a right for all these details to be released."

"Who made the decision?"

"The public has the right to know whether the land was offered to Wollongong City Council and the people of Wollongong by Defence for a nominal price."

"An Environmental Report (that included Aboriginal Heritage) was done in 2005 by the Department of Defence leading up to the sale of the land. I call for the immediate release of this report by Brendon Nelson, Minister for Defence."

Contact: Reuben Brown - Aboriginal Elder - phone 42 713069


Senator Kerrie Nettle, Australian Greens, at the 'Save Hill 60' rally, 6 August 2006.

* 16 August 2006, Wednesday - Senator Kerrie Nettle, Australian Greens, Parliament House, Canberra

Questions on Notice to be submitted to the Minister for Defence.

Agreement with Port Kembla Aborigines

To: The Hon Brendan Nelson Minister for Defence.

1. Is the Minister aware of any agreements, formal or informal, written or unwritten, implied or direct, made with Aboriginal people regarding their removal from (at the time of the Second World War) and possible return to, the land known as, Hill 60 in Port Kembla?

2. Will the Minister honour the agreements made with Aboriginal people, at the time of their removal from Hill 60 at Port Kembla, in relation to their promised return to said lands at the end of the Second World War?

3. Will the Minister agree to the deferment of the intended sale of Defence Dept (tenders close August 8th 2006) owned lands at Hill 60, Port Kembla, until the issues of ownership, significance and unkept agreements are discussed and resolved with Aboriginal Elders?

4. Will the Minister meet with Aboriginal Elders and members of the Port Kembla community to discuss and resolve issues of ownership, significance and unkept agreements, relating to the Hill 60 site at Port Kembla?


* 12 August 2006, Saturday - Illawarra Mercury - letter to the editor

Aborigines should be given land

Hill 60 at Port Kembla is of immense cultural significance to the local Aboriginal people. The Department of Defence has built structures on and within it since the early 1900s. It has also kicked Aboriginal people off the land, while promising the land would be handed back once the department was finished with it.

So why is the land being offered to developers on tender?

It must be returned to the community so it can be incorporated within the land at Hill 60, which is already subject to state heritage listing. The Aboriginal heritage values of this part of Wollongong must be protected and preserved.

Michael Organ, Bulli


* 9 August 2006, Wednesday - Wollongong Advertiser - article by Nathan Simpson

Hill 60 fury still well alight

Burning of Koori homes in WW2 rankles elder

The fury inside elder Allan Carriage still rages as bright as the Aboriginal homes which were deliberately lit and burnt to the ground at Hill 60 during WW2.

Mr Carriage, along with the Northern Illawarra Aboriginal Collective (NIAC), continues the 65-year fight for Aboriginal ownership of the land at Port Kembla.

Leading the charge is NIAC general manager Chris Illert, who is part of a group to stop the sale of the 6302sqm property which is presently in the hands of the Department of Defence.

The department has placed the former Army Reserve depot and drill hall site in Military Rd on the market with tenders closing today.

Both Mr Carriage and Mr Illert said the public must be aware of the real story behind the loss of the land by the Aboriginal people.

Mr Illert labelled as "shocking" the handling and removal of an Aboriginal community who lived on and owned the land on Hill 60 in 1942.

"We must remember that this was a happy community, living on land which was rightfully theirs," Mr Illert said.

"These people lived well, some even had beautiful pianos in their homes and they looked after themselves and the area well."

"However the eviction of Hill 60s entire Aboriginal community during WW2 was driven by the desire of envious non-Aboriginals who wanted the fishing rights."

"In the end it was the military who took the land and handed the fishing rights away."

"The Aboriginal people were promised that their homes would be kept safe and that they could re-occupy them after the war."

"It is their land outright and they should own freehold title outright, and be subject only to Wollongong City Council, the same way as every other home owner."

A document compiled by Roy Burns, grandfather of Allan Carriage, and written to the Australian Army in 1942 reads:

"I was living on Hill 60 Port Kembla, which is now a Naval Fort and fully controlled by your Department."

"The Officer in charge there gave us six days to move from Hill 60 and he informed me that if I left my place there it would be cared for and I could return to if after the war."

"Now sir they are burning some of the places left on Hill 60...... "

Meantime, a community rally was held in a bid to stop the sale of the land on Saturday.

The Department of Defence says the land has been judged by independent consultants to have "low Aboriginal archaeological potential given the level of disturbance and Defence use of the site since 1909."


* 9 August 2006, Wednesday

Statement to the Parliament of Australia, Parliament House, Canberra, by the Federal Member for Throsby, Jennie George

Throsby Electorate - Hill 60, Port Kembla

Ms George. Throsby. (9.30 a.m.)—I take the opportunity this morning to indicate my wholehearted support for the local community campaign in opposition to the sale of land at Hill 60 in Port Kembla and urge the government to withdraw this significant site from private sale. The Minister for Defence has determined to dispose of this land on the grounds that it has been identified as surplus to defence requirements. The particular parcel of land adjoins Hill 60, which has been granted heritage listing by the New South Wales government. Hill 60 has particular significance for our local Indigenous community, who want the land returned to its rightful owners.

At the ‘Save our Hill’ rally on Sunday, 6 August, Uncle Reuben Brown, an esteemed local elder, referred to their longstanding connection with this land when he said:

"On this land here is where my wife’s mother and my great grandmother’s little sister lived in a tin shed. This is where they lived until about 1942 when the army moved them out, but that doesn’t change the fact that over there is where our ancestors have been buried. They want to sell the land from under us. We’ve got to do something to make sure that it doesn’t happen."

The ball is now in the government’s court. I have pursued the case with a range of ministers, including the Minister for Defence and the ministers for the environment and Indigenous affairs, but I have as yet received no response. I am aware that Senator Fierravanti-Wells has also urged that the decision to dispose of this land be reviewed.

I am at a loss to understand the department’s view that ‘there are no significant heritage or environmental issues involved’. Surely the Indigenous connection to this land—the historical and the cultural ties—must indicate that there are strong grounds to reverse this decision. The rally on Sunday was well attended by a cross-section of Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants and many local residents of Port Kembla who are determined to preserve this important site.

The Department of Defence claims it has to recoup the purchase price of the land for the public. In response one might ask, ‘What purchase price?’ The land was taken from the Aboriginal people who lived on it and who were forced off it during World War II.

The government should not proceed with the sale. I have urged the Minister for the Environment and Heritage to intervene in terms of his authority under federal legislation. I have also called on the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in a genuine act of practical reconciliation to have the Defence land incorporated into the current Hill 60 heritage listing by the New South Wales government.

The rally asked me to pass on the following message to the government: ‘You’re not taking our land; it’s not for sale.'


* 7 August 2006 - Illawarra Mercury - article by Andrew Drummond

Hill 60 fight heats up as critics rally

Cries of "save our hill" echoed over Port Kembla's Hill 60 lookout yesterday as protests grew over the sale of nearby government-owned land.

The Department of Defence has called for tenders for the 6302sqm site on Military Rd next to Illawarra Senior College, but the region's Aboriginal community wants the land returned to its rightful owners.

"On this land here this is where my wife's mother and my great grandmother's little sister lived in a tin shed," Aboriginal elder Uncle Reuban Brown told a crowd of about 200 supporters.

"This is where they lived until about 1942 when the Army moved them out but that doesn't change the fact that over there is where our ancestors have been buried."

"They want to sell the land from under us. We've got to do something to make sure that it doesn't happen."

The site was formerly used as an Army Reserve depot and drill hall and a Defence Department spokeswoman said it was being sold because it was no longer required.

The land is zoned medium-density residential and is suitable for villas, flats and houses.

"The Department of Defence claims it has to recoup the purchase price (of the land) for the public. What purchase price? This land was taken from the Aboriginal people," Wollongong City Council Aboriginal community development officer Sharralyn Robinson said.

"We are sending a message to the Government: 'You're not taking our land, it's not for sale.'

"Sure you can't see the stones on the graves but they are there - they need to be protected and protect them we're going to."

Speakers at yesterday's protest included Greens Senator Kerry Nettle, Member for Throsby Jenny George, Councillor Zeki Essen and former NSW MP and Aboriginal affairs minister Colin Markham.

Protesters were critical of Defence Department claims the land had no cultural, environment or historical value and requested any such studies be made available to the public.

The crowd also heard the council declined an offer in 1996 to buy the site. Tenders for the property close tomorrow.


* 7 August 2006 - ABC Radio Illawarra - news report

200 protest over plans to sell reserve Army depot

An estimated 200 people have taken part in a protest over Department of Defence plans to sell land at Hill 60 at Port Kembla.

Tenders for the sale of the former reserve Army depot close tomorrow.

The president of the Wadi Wadi-Coomadichi Corporation, Allan Carriage, says he is working with other elders to protect Hill 60.

Mr Carriage says he is concerned that arguments between members of the Aboriginal community over land ownership could weaken their position.

He says all parts of the Aboriginal community need to band together to lodge a successful native title claim for the land.

"But if they start fighting with each other and say, 'look, we've got a little bit of history here', it's not like that, we have to pull together to make it strong and we have the history of that country," he said.

"It's just got to be pulled together by the rest of the community to support one organisation, then we can sit down later on and sort our little organisations up."


* 6 August 2006, Sunday

Save Hill 60 Rally

A public 'Save our Hill' rally is held at Illowra "Hill 60" to express community concern over the sale of the Department of Defence land at Port Kembla.

The rally unanimously calls for the withdrawal of the sale of the land and its eventual hand back to the local community.

Speakers from the local community included local Elder Reuben Brown (pictured at left reading a statement from his wife Gwen), Sharralyn Robinson and Roy Dootch Kennedy.

Politicians who speak included Senator Kerrie Nettle (Australian Greens), Jennie George (Federal Member for Throsby), Colin Markham (former member of the NSW Parliament) and Zeki Essen (Wollongong City Council).

A letter (reproduced below in full) is read out from Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Liberal Senator for New South Wales and a former resident of Port Kembla.

During the course of the rally some 200 members of the public are in attendance and various motions supporting the campaign are passed unanimously.


* 6 August 2006, Sunday

Message to the Save Hill 60 Rally

Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Liberal Senator for New South Wales

I would like to thank the organisers of the Save Hill 60 Rally for the opportunity to deliver this message to you. Unfortunately, due to a prior commitment I am unable to be here today.

I was very pleased to have met with Auntie Gwen Brown and Aboriginal Elders at this site on Thursday, 3 August.

When first became aware of the proposed sale of the Defence land at Hill 60, I wrote to Senator the Hon. Sandy Macdonald, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence. I advised Senator Macdonald of the various community concerns that had been expressed. I pointed out to Senator McDonald that having grown up in Port Kembla and still having a strong association with the area, I believe that the Hill 60 site has historic and heritage value for the community. I also advised Senator McDonald that Hill 60 not only has heritage and environmental value, but it also attracts visitors to the area who go there to enjoy the panoramic views of the Port Kembla and coastal area.

It is for these reasons that I asked if consideration could be given to reviewing the decision.

I have also written to the Lord Mayor of Wollongong requesting information from Wollongong City Council regarding the zoning regulations that apply to the site, and a history of Council decisions concerning the land.

I then informed both the Hon. Mal Brough MP, Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, and Senator The Hon. Ian Campbell, Minister for Environment and Heritage of the developments regarding the sale of the Hill 60 land site. I drew the Ministers’ attention to the suggestion, raised through the Illawarra media, that the site may have some heritage listing attached to it. I sought consideration as to whether there were any environmental heritage issues associated with the site and whether, from a Federal perspective, some protection could be afforded to the land.

As I expressed to Minister Campbell and Minister Brough, I would very much like to see it protected and retained in some form of ownership that could benefit the general public.

Subsequent to this I became aware that independent assessments of the land did not identify any significant environmental, heritage or indigenous values associated with the property, as the Department of Defence has informed the local media.

Following this, I am in the process of seeking further as to the nature and extent of the Aboriginal archaeological survey that was completed before the conformation of sale was given.

I have also asked the New South Wales Heritage Official, present at my meeting here on Thursday, to supply me with documentation pertaining to the listing of the adjacent site on the New South Wales State Heritage Register.

I have also become aware that the Department of Defence and Wollongong City Council have discussed this site over the past few years. The Council was invited to submit an application for a priority sale on 8 May 2006. Council responded on 15 May 2006 advising it would not apply for a priority sale and supporting Defence’s disposal of the site in the normal manner on the open market. If however Council were to now apply for a priority sale, I understand Defence would still consider this.

In summary I have asked for the sale of the land to be reviewed and a range of options to be considered so that the land can be protected and retained. I look forward to working with you towards these outcomes.

Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells

Liberal Senator for NSW


* 5 August 2006, Saturday

The following notice was published in The Australian and the Illawarra Mercury:

*Public Notice*

Attention all parties interested in the sale of land at Hill 60 by the Department of Defence, designated as:

Lot 3, Military Road, Port Kembla.

The traditional Aboriginal owners of this land have a prior legal claim to it. The said land is covenanted to be returned to the traditional owners when the Defence Force no longer requires it for the defence of Australia.

Authorised by Auntie Gwen Brown


* 4 August 2006 - Illawarra Mercury - letter to the editor

Threatened sites' invaluable heritage

It is not only Aboriginal heritage which will be lost if the Department of Defence sells off Hill 60, as explained in "Don't sell Hill 60", (Mercury, July 22).

If this sale eventuates, together with that of Fort Drummond, Mt St Thomas, the whole region will be the poorer.

Both sites should be retained as public open space as there is natural and built heritage on each site. As our urban density increases around the CBD, it is imperative that any public open space be retained and used wisely.

Hill 60 is the best vantage point in Illawarra, adjacent to the water with sweeping views of the escarpment, our magnificent coastline, Lake Illawarra and the Five Islands. Maintenance of walking tracks around the steep cliffs and bush regeneration has taken years. As stated in Saturday's coverage, Aboriginal heritage is also strong on this site.

Fort Drummond holds major historic interest being the gun emplacement which helped protect Port Kembla and Wollongong during World War II. The remnant forest which crowns the hill is the last anywhere close to the CBD. It forms a barrier between inner suburbs and heavy industry. Its biodiversity is probably unique as all other parcels of natural vegetation have long since been cleared in similar areas.

I would call on all our local, state and federal government representatives in the Illawarra to lobby against the sale of both sites as there is great value for the community in open space, conserved vegetation, Aboriginal heritage and tourism, etc.

Wollongong councillors are to be congratulated on their recommendation for heritage listing of these two sites. However, withdrawal from sale is the critical issue. Zoning for protection also needs immediate action.

June Pronk, Secretary, Illawarra Escarpment Coalition.


* 4 August 2006 - Illawarra Mercury - article by Michelle Tydd

Council denies backflip over land sell-off

Wollongong City Council has denied it has done a backflip on the sale of Defence Department land at Hill 60, Port Kembla.

The department has revealed that although the council rejected its invitation in May to apply to buy the land under a priority sale arrangement, it supported its sale on the open market. But a council spokesman said the council told the department it had "no objection" to the sale on the open market.

"That is very different to supporting the sale."

"That was an operational decision in May and councillors have since made a political decision to support the Aboriginal community's fight to save the land from development."

He was referring to a resolution last month that council liaise with the Aboriginal community and others to build a case for listing Hill 60 on the NSW State Heritage Register.

Otherwise it would support the community's call for a Native Title Claim.

The Department of Defence spokesman said assessments undertaken by independent consultants did not identify any significant environmental, heritage or indigenous values associated with the land up for sale.

"Defence understands that Hill 60 and the area towards the beach - not Defence land - have indigenous values," he said, adding a survey showed the site to have a low Aboriginal archaeological potential.


* 4 August 2006 - Illawarra Mercury - article by Michelle Tydd

Rally in defence of Hill 60 heritage

A campaign to stop the sale of Department of Defence land on Port Kembla's Hill 60 has moved up a notch with a rally planned at the site on Sunday.

"It is one of the Aboriginal community's treasures and no part of that hill should be up for sale," said Sharralyn Robinson, the Aboriginal community development officer with Wollongong City Council.

Organisers are expecting a big crowd because word was spreading quickly, Ms Robinson said.

The department has placed the former Army Reserve depot and drill hall site in Military Rd on the market with tenders closing on August 9.

The 6302sqm property just east of Illawarra Senior College is zoned medium density residential, suitable for villas, flats and houses. The department says the land has been judged by independent consultants to have "low Aboriginal archaeological potential given the level of disturbance and Defence use of the site since 1909."

Aboriginal elders hotly dispute the Defence consultancy report's conclusion on the heritage value.

They have described the area up for sale as part of a thriving Aboriginal community before it was forcibly moved off the hill in 1942 so the land could be used for defence purposes.

Organisers hope Sunday's rally will raise awareness and put on public record the community's opposition to the sale. Speakers will include elders Auntie Gwen Browne and Roy Kennedy.

"I want to focus on the cultural significance of this hill to people in the Illawarra and along the coast," Mr Kennedy said.

"The middens alone date back thousands of years. I still go there for peace and solace and I know people in our community who do the same. The Defence Department knows this and (should) wake up and respect cultural heritage both black and white."


* 2 August 2006, Wednesday - Media Release

Sale Of Hill 60 Opposed by Aboriginal Elders and Port Kembla Community

The Proposed sale of the Defence Department owned land at Hill 60, Port Kembla has attracted a united opposition from Aboriginal Elders and the wider Port Kembla community.

Aboriginal people were forcibly removed and relocated from traditional lands at Hill 60 during the Second World War, with promises made to return them to traditional lands at the end of the war. Aboriginal people have consistently and persistently asserted their cultural affiliation to the place. The land has never been returned to traditional owners and is now to be sold for development.

Uncle Reuben Brown, Elouera Elder: " We were born and raised on this land, and our ancestors were born and raised on this land - and we have never left there."

Tenders for the land close Wednesday, August 9th. (Ironically this is the International Day Of Indigenous Peoples).

Aboriginal Elders are calling on the Minister to defer the sale until their concerns have been fairly heard.

A joint rally comprising the Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal communities in the Port Kembla region is planned for 12 noon on Sunday, August 6th at the summit of Hill 60, Military Road, Port Kembla, to oppose the sale of the land.

Speakers at the rally include;

Uncle Reuben Brown (Welcome to Country)

Aunty Gwen Brown ( Importance of the site to Traditional Owners)

Col Markham ( Ambassador for Reconciliation)

Local and Federal Members of Parliament have also been invited. There will be music and entertainment and a call to action by senior local Aboriginal activist 'Dootch' Roy Kennedy.

The meeting is expected to endorse the following general resolutions:

1. Hill 60 has always been, is and always will be Aboriginal land

2. The Federal Defence Minister , Brendan Nelson, must, as a matter of urgency defer the sale of Hill 60 until the questions of ownership, significance, and honouring of past agreements, have been discussed and resolved to the satisfaction of the Aboriginal community.

3. The Department of Defence and representatives of other relevant government agencies must meet immediately with senior members of the Aboriginal community, to begin the process of negotiating the return of Hill 60 to the Elouera People, the Traditional Owners of the land.

Contact details for the media

Dootch Roy Kennedy 0434 366 374

Sharralyn Robinson 0418 219 242


* 1 August 2006, Tuesday

Save Hill 60 email group

This group is set up to assist with the co-ordination of the campaign and the flow of information. You can sign-up by sending a message to the following:

savehill60-owner@yahoogroups.com or a message to the following savehill60@yahoogroups.com


* 31 July 2006, Monday - Illawarra Mercury - letter to the editor

Honour 1940s oath to return Hill 60

Re the sale of Defence land on Hill 60 at Port Kembla (Mercury, July 22): once again, promises to Aboriginal people are being broken.

The Commonwealth resumed this land from a thriving Aboriginal community in the 1940s for the war effort, promising to return it after the war.

It was rezoned 2b (medium density housing) in 1990, with scant regard for Aboriginal people's human rights and economic independence.

After 15 years of attempted reconciliation with Aboriginal Australians, we (the forces that control wealth and power) still see fit to deprive them of a small piece of coastal land.

Granted, it has high real estate value, but why shouldn't they own valuable land?

Not surprisingly, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people value the same land, though for difference reasons.

After the Sandon Point debacle, where Aboriginal rights and interests were trampled - after their wishes for Bass Point were ignored - after numerous coastal sacred sites were destroyed, surely a suburban-sized block of special significance to local Koories is not too much to ask?

Didn't the Nan Tien Temple secure its land for $1?

Koori people attach strong spiritual significance to Hill 60.

Let's make a gesture of reparation as we strive towards maturity as a nation.

Elsa Story, Wollongong


* 28 July 2006, Friday - ABC Radio Illawarra - news report

Defence land not included in Hill 60 heritage listing

It has been revealed that a large part of Hill 60 at Port Kembla, on the New South Wales south coast, has been listed on the State Heritage Register since 2001.

The Department of Defence site is not included, and is now listed for sale.

A two kilometre stretch of land from just north of Gloucester Boulevard, down to and including Hill 60 Park and the military reserve is on the State Heritage Register.

But the land owned by the Department of Defence has been left off.

The entry in the heritage register describes the listed land as being almost continuously occupied and used by the Aboriginal community and notes its struggle to secure the land.

Local Aborigines say that the defence site also has cultural significance and that the land was taken from them during World War II, with a promise that it would be returned.

Tenders for development of the site close on August 8.

The Defence Department says it is only selling a small property adjacent to the Hill 60 area.

It says it has held discussions with Wollongong City Council over the sale of the land and another at Mt St Thomas.

The department says the council supported it in selling the properties.


* 27 July 2006, Thursday - Department of Defence - media release

Sale of Defence Land at Port Kembla

The Department of Defence wishes to clarify an apparent misunderstanding that the sale of Defence land at Port Kembla covers the entire Hill 60 location. The former Army Reserve Depot site at Port Kembla is a 6,212 square metre property located adjacent to the far south eastern corner of the site known as Hill 60, adjacent to the Illawarra Senior College. The Defence site has been surplus for some years. Hill 60 is owned by the Wollongong City Council. Defence is not selling any of the Hill 60 Park or lookout area. It is only offering for sale the small Defence property adjacent to the Hill 60 area, as shown on the image provided at the following link:

http://www.defence.gov.au/media/2006/cpa1732006.pdf

Defence and Wollongong City Council have held discussions regarding the Defence property at Port Kembla, and another at Mount St Thomas. Council advised Defence in May 2006 that it supported Defence disposing of the properties in the normal manner on the open market.

Media contact:

Defence Media Liaison (02) 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664


* 26 July 2006, Wednesday - Illawarra Mercury - article by Sarah Allely

Heritage register plan for Hill 60

Wollongong councillors are throwing their weight behind the indigenous community's push to save Hill 60 from development.

The council supported a motion on Monday night by Ward 6 councillor Zeki Essen to "liaise with the local Aboriginal community and others to build a case for listing Hill 60 on the NSW State Heritage Register or support for a Native Title Claim".

The Department of Defence has placed the former Army Reserve depot and drill hall in Military Rd on the market, with tenders closing on August 8.

The 6302sqm property next to Illawarra Senior College and about 330m from Port Kembla Beach, is zoned medium-density residential, suitable for villas, flats and houses.

Cr Essen said he had taken a lot of calls from people passionate about the area, and its indigenous history needed preservation.

"It's sad that the Federal Government hasn't approached the community or the elders, and just put up a For Sale sign," he said.

'Hill 60 has a history that should be protected.

"It's commonsense that the land should be dedicated back to the community."

A department spokeswoman said the land was being sold because it was no longer required.

Throsby MP Jennie George and former Throsby MP Colin Hollis oppose the sale and want the land returned to public ownership.

Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells has asked her Federal Government colleagues to review the decision.

She said yesterday her request was under consideration.

Auntie Gwen Brown grew up among the local Illowra clan only a stone's throw from the Port Kembla summit.

The elder attended Monday's council meeting and was pleased with the result but frustrated it had taken so long.

"I wish they had thrown their weight behind us when we were trying to stop the marina at Bass Point in 1995," she said.

Auntie Brown was not sure if there was enough time to get a heritage listing, when the auction was in less than two weeks.

"It's all good, this is what we set out to do. But it's just taken so long," she said.

She only discovered her ancestral land was up for sale when signs advertising the auction were spotted by friends two weeks ago.

Wadi Wadi elder Allan Carriage welcomed the heritage listing.

"It's a very significant area.... there are bodies buried there."


* 26 July 2006, Wednesday - ABC Radio Illawarra - news report

Wollongong Council backs land sale opposition

Wollongong City Council has given its support to the local Aboriginal community to oppose the sale of land at Hill 60 at Port Kembla on the New South Wales south coast.

The Department of Defence has put the former Army Reserve depot next to the Illawarra Senior College up for sale.

This has only angered the Aboriginal community, who says the land was taken away from it during World War II for military purposes.

The council says it will build up a case for the land to be placed on the State Heritage Register.

Councillor Zeki Essen, who put forward the motion, says any native title claim will also be supported.

"Now they've got a pretty good chance ... and we'll just take it on to the Federal Government and see how we go, so there should be a sort of two-way traffic ... sort of a communication starting now," Cr Essen said.


*  25 July 2006, Tuesday - ABC Radio Illawarra - news report

Illawarra Aboriginal groups are angered at and will oppose proposals to sell Defence...

Illawarra Aboriginal groups are angered at and will oppose proposals to sell Defence owned land at Hill 60 in Port Kembla as they have been planning a walking trail through the land.

The land was taken from Aboriginal people in WWII and was never given back.

Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation's Annalise Voorthuis says they may make a claim for the land if it is declared vacant.


* 25 July 2006, Tuesday - ABC Radio Illawarra - news report

Lands sale upsets Indigenous community

Land owned by the Department of Defence at Hill 60 at Port Kembla, on the New South Wales south coast, is being advertised for sale, angering members of Illawarra's Aboriginal community.

The land was taken away from Aborigines during World War II to help defend the port, and was never given back.

Aboriginal groups have been planning to construct a walking trail along the coast through the land earmarked for sale.

Annalise Voorhouse from the Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation says it may make an official claim for the land.

"We'll certainly be letting people know that this is Crown land, this is ... Department of Defence [land], it belongs to the Crown," she said.

"Somewhere in the transfer of sale that land will have to be declared vacant and at that time a native title claim could very well be put across that land."


* 24 July 2006, Monday

Council motion re Hill 60

A full meeting of Wollongong City Council passes the following motion on Hill 60. It is moved by Councillor Zeki Essen and seconded by Councillor Ann Wood:

"Resolved on the motion of Councillor Essen seconded Councillor Wood that Council liaise with the local Aboriginal community and others to build a case for listing Hill 60 on the NSW State Heritage Register or support for a Native Title Claim."

This motion followed on the discovery by councillors that the land had been offered to Council by the Department of Defence in May, but that management had made an operational decision not to accept the offer or inform councillors or the community of it.


* 22 July 2006, Saturday - Illawarra Mercury - article by Sarah Allely

Don't sell Hill 60 heritage

The Australian Government is trying to sell land at Hill 60 which by right belongs to local Indigenous people, says Wadi Wadi elder Allan Carriage.

The chair of the Wadi Wadi Coomaditchie Aboriginal Corporation said the traditional owners had not been consulted on the sale.

"My mum was born in a tin shed on Hill 60, and my Auntie Joan said there are bodies buried somewhere, but we don't know where," he said.

The Department of Defence has placed the former Army Reserve depot and drill hall in Military Rd on the market, with tenders closing on August 8.

The 6302sqm property next to Illawarra Senior College, and about 330m from Port Kembla Beach, is zoned medium-density residential, suitable for villas, flats and houses.

Surplus defence land next to Fort Drummond at Mount St Thomas is also for sale.

A department spokeswoman said the land was being sold because it was surplus to requirement.

Mr Carriage, 64, said the military took control of Hill 60 and the surrounds during World War II, forcing the Aboriginal community into a settlement at Coomaditchie.

He said his people were falsely promised they could return after the war.

"I don't want to keep fighting with government departments. All I want them to do is to help me to save our stories of country," he said.

The waters below Hill 60 around Five Islands were traditional Aboriginal fishing areas where Mr Carriage learned to fish with his elders.

"We know all the stories of this land. This is heritage, there's so many stories to be told," he said.

Wollongong Councillor Kiril Jonovski, Throsby MP Jennie George and former Throsby MP Colin Hollis oppose the sale and want the land returned to public ownership.

Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells has asked her Federal Government colleagues to review the decision.


* 20 July 2006, Thursday

Extract from an email from Senator Fierravanti-Wells, Liberal Senator for New South Wales, in regards to halting the sale of Illowra "Hill 60":

"...As you may be aware I have written to Senator The Hon. Sandy Macdonald, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, asking that the decision to sell the land be reviewed."


* 17 July 2006, Monday - Illawarra Mercury - letter to the editor

Hill 60 for the people, not hungry developers

Kiril Jonovski hit the nail on the head in relation to the so-called surplus land sale on Port Kembla's Hill 60.

The land should definitely be given back to the public for a picnic area or any form of public space. After extensive revegetation programs Hill 60 has become a green corridor in the last decade and this adds to the attraction of the area.

Another important factor relates to Hill 60 being an area that was once inhabited by the local indigenous community. At the very least this should be recognised in some way. Perhaps the land could be used to build an indigenous art centre.

Overall there is no real need for development in this area and sale of the land serves no legitimate purpose other than making fast money for the very high taxing Federal Government, which claims a whopping $13 billion surplus.

Perhaps those efforts would be better utilised in addressing the rapidly deteriorating main street than spoiling what should really be land the public has a right to.

Bark McKenzine, Port Kembla


* 14 July 2006, Friday - Illawarra Mercury - article by Sarah Allely

Elders pay tribute to past, present

Just standing on Hill 60 looking out over the spectacular vista brings Auntie Gwen Brown to tears.

"My ancestors lived here for 2000 years but there is nothing here to commemorate that," she said.

The Aboriginal elder grew up among the local Illowra clan only a stone's throw from the Port Kembla summit.

Raising the indigenous flag yesterday with her husband Uncle Reuben Brown to celebrate the passing of NAIDOC Week, she told a crowd stories that threatened to leave few dry eyes.

"I grew up here until I was about five or six, before they moved us off here and put us down on the farm," she said.

"And that's where we stayed for about 21/2 years, when I should have been at school. Instead I was picking beans and milking cows for the farmer."

Auntie Gwen said this year's theme of respecting history meant two things.

"One is understanding that what has happened to indigenous Australians over the past 228 years has a direct link to the massive social problems."

"No-one's asking anyone to feel guilty, just to understand there is a direct link between what happened in the past," she said.

"And (the other is) respecting history also means recognising significant events as they relate to today."


* 12 July 2006, Saturday - Illawarra Mercury - article by Anthony Field

More defence land on market

The Federal Government is selling more surplus defence land in Wollongong, this time near Hill 60 at Port Kembla.

The Department of Defence has placed the former Army Reserve depot and drill hall in Military Rd on the market for sale by tender.

The 6302sqm property is next to Illawarra Senior College and about 330m from Port Kembla Beach.

It is zoned medium-density residential, suitable for villas, flats and houses.

Surplus defence land next to Fort Drummond at Mt St Thomas is also for sale and tenders for both properties close on August 8.

A department spokeswoman said the Military Rd site was being sold because it was no longer required. Apart from the land at Mt St Thomas, there were no other surplus defence sites in Wollongong.

The properties were advertised last Saturday and Bevans real estate agent David Geary said there had been inquiries from the Illawarra, Sydney, Goulburn and the ACT.

Wollongong councillor Kiril Jonovski is opposed to the sale of the Port Kembla land and said it should be given to the community as public open space.

"The Federal Government is awash with money and I don't think they need any more," he said.

His comments echo those of Cr David Brown, who wants the Mt St Thomas site kept for open space.

Cr Jonovski called on Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, a former Port Kembla resident, to pressure the Government to give the land back to the community.

Senator Fierravanti-Wells said she had only just become aware of the land being sold at Port Kembla and Mt St Thomas but she would certainly be making some inquiries and talking to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Senator Sandy Macdonald, about the sites.

Illawarra Senior College principal Mark Webster said any residential development would not bother the school because bushland and tennis courts acted as a buffer zone.

Mr Webster said any development might also produce future students for the school.


* 14 June 2006

Council management includes Hill 60 in its rejection of land purchase offer

Rod Oxley, CEO, Wollongong City Council, informs the Department of Defence:

"This email is to confirm that both properties, in Mt St Thomas and Port Kembla, mentioned in the letter from myself dated 15 May 2006, to Senator The Hon. Sandy Macdonald, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, are to be treated the same way."


* 15 May 2006, Monday

Wollongong City Council management rejects Department of Defence purchase offer

Senator The Hon. Sandy Macdonald
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Deputy Leader of the Nationals in the Senate
Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Senator Macdonald

Intention to Sell Surplus Properties

I refer to your letter dated 8 May 2006 addressed to Councillor Alex Darling, Lord Mayor, Wollongong City Council, in relation to two surplus properties in the Wollongong area that the Department of Defence wishes to dispose of.

Council does not have an interest in making application for a priority sale for the Mount Saint Thomas property in accordance with the Commonwealth Property Disposals Policy.

Accordingly, Council would suppport the Department of Defence proceeding with the disposal of these properties in the normal manner.

Yours faithfully,

Rod Oxley, Chief Executive Officer, Wollongong City Council


12 May 2006, Friday

Council receives the letter from Senator Sandy Macdonald offering Hill 60 Department of Defence land for sale.


* 8 May 2006, Monday

Federal Government offers Hill 60 and Mt St Thomas land to Council

Councillor Alex Darling
Mayor
Wollongong City Council

Dear Councillor Darling

I write to advise the Council that Defence intends to sell two surplus properties in the Wollongong area, including the former Army Reserve Depot, Military Road, Port Kembla, and the former Royal Australian Air Force Training Centre, The Avenue, Mount Saint Thomas.

I note Council's previous desire to have these properties re-zoned as Public Open Space.

However, there would not appear to be any environmental or heritage issues that would warrant such a zoning.

The stand of Spotted Gum Trees on the Mount Saint Thomas site would be protected under the Wollongong City Council Local Environmental Plan, and will be disclosed to prospective purchasers. With regards to builings on the site, a report by Godden Mackay Logan in February 2005, found that:

The general low quality and low significance of the surviving buildings does not justify their retention .... The conservation of the heritage values of the Mount Saint Thomas Training Depot through the usual approach of retention of the fabric of the place is likely to be of limited value.

This documentation will also be provided to potential purchasers. Defence intends marketing the properties on an 'as is, where is' basis.

I am advised that in November 2004, Defence wrote to Council inviting them to submit an applicatoin for a priority sale for Mount Saint Thomas, in accordance with the Commonwealth Property Disposals Policy. However, no response has been received.

The Council may wish to re-evaluate its position and consider whether it wishes to proceed with a submission for a priority sale of each site.

Any submission needs to show how Commonwealth objectives will be achieved, and how the proposal would provide a significent benefit to the Commonwealth that could not be provided by an open market sale. I enclose a copy of the Commonwealth Property Disposals Policy for your information.

Any priority sale application will require approval by myself and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck.

Given the current state of the properties and the length of time they have been surplus, I wish to resolve the matterr as soon as possible and would appreciate advice of the Council's intentions by 16 June 2006.

I trust this information will be of assistance to you.

Yours sincerely, Sandy Macdonald


* 8-15 May 2006

Department of Defence land at Hill 60 & Mt. St. Thomas offered to Wollongong City Council

The Department of Defence writes to Wollongong City Council on Monday, 8 May 2006, inviting it to purchase the 6.3 ha parcel of land at Hill 60, and also land at Mt St Thomas, under a priority sale arrangement.

The letter is received at Council on Friday, 12 May 2006.

Council management makes an "operational" decision not to take up the offer and informs the Department of Defence of this on Monday, 15 May 2006.

Council management also offers "no objection" to the sale of the land on the open market.

The local community and Wollongong City councillors are not informed of the decision at the time, or of the offer to purchase.


2002

Port Kembla Public School - Hill 60 web page

This web page contains stories about the history of Hill 60 by students of Years 3 and 4 at Port Kembla Public School. The site also includes a wonderful collection of drawings and photographs of Hill 60 by the school children.


The Story of the Five Islands

In the Alcheringa, Oola-boola-woo, the West Wind, lived on top of Merrigong (the Illawarra Range). With the West Wind were his six little daughters Mimosa, Wilga, Lilli Pilli, Wattle, Clematis and Geera.

Sometimes the children’s cousins, who lived in a seaside camp just north of Illowra (Red Point), came up the mountain for a visit. The little children brought gifts of fish, pretty sea-shells, fruit and flowers, but Mimosa, an unpleasant child, was sulky and disagreeable to the visitors. When her sisters played and laughed with their cousins, Mimosa scratched and fought. Oola-boola-woo was so annoyed at his daughter’s rude behaviour he snatched off the piece of the mountain upon which she sat, and threw it out to the sea.

How strange to see a large piece of rock flying through the air with the little black girl, Mimosa, clinging to it! Plop! went the great rock into the sea, giving Mimosa a shower bath, which cooled her naughty temper. "Whoosh, gurgle, goggle," she cried, coughing and choking. She looked about and was startled to see she was some distance from the land. In fact, she was on an island, to which neither her sisters nor her friends could swim, for fear of sharks. Poor Mimosa! Too late she regretted her naughtiness. Day after day she sat on the island, until she turned into a mermaid, slid into the sea and swam about.

Mimosa’s fate should have been a lesson to her sisters, but, bye and bye, they grew lazy, careless and disobedient. One evening Oola-boola-woo, the West Wind, came home, at sunset, to find Wilga lying on a warm rock, playing with a pet lizard. She had not washed her face or combed her hair, nor had she tidied the house. Oola-boola-woo felt that his patience was at an end. He had had a hard day blowing up dust storms in the west and helped to fan a great bushfire, near Appin, so he was tired.

Taking a big breath, he blew Wilga and her rock out to sea. How surprise the people in the camp were next morning, to see two islands in the sea, not far from the coast. It wasn’t long until Lilli Pilli, Wattle and Clematis were blown out to sea, on pieces of rock so that there were five islands, with five little mermaids sunning themselves.

So Geera was the only child left in Oola-boola-woo’s home on the mountain top. How lonely she was! Her father was often away, so there was no one to talk to. There was no one to play with, for the children in the camp had long grown tired of climbing the mountain side to visit the unruly family, on the top. Geera sat hunched, with her arms around her ankles, gazing down at the smoke of the Aborigines’ camp, or staring out at the Five Islands. Year after year she sat, so still and quiet she turned to stone. Dust and dead leaves fell upon her, grass and wild flowers grew over her, and so she became part of the mountain range. She is now known as Mount Keira.


Historical Chronology

2001 - December - Illowra / "Hill 60" is included in the New South Wales State Heritage Register for its Aboriginal cultural heritage and military heritage values. The Department of Defence land is not included as the State government has no jurisdiction over land owned by the Federal government. If the land had been owned by the State it would, in all likelihood, have been included in the area listed.

2000 - Hill 60, Port Kembla, Conservation Management Plan - Report to Wollongong City Council and the Department of Land and Water Conservation by Mary Dallas.

1998 - An archaeological study of the Department of Defence land at Hill 60 is carried out.

1996 - Cultural heritage study of Hill 60 by English & Bennett.

1995 - Wollongong City Council Aboriginal Heritage Planning Study (Dallas & Sullivan). Identifies Hill 60 as a significant site. Archaeological studies by Baker, Baker, English and Gojak are also carried out.

1989 - Recreation reserve gazetted .

1988 - NPWS sites 52-2-1290 and 52-2-1289 at Red Point.

1984 - Recreation reserve gazetted.

1980 - NPWS site 52-2-476 at Red Point.

1974 - An Aboriginal burial site and associated midden at Hill 60 is excavated.

1969 - Illawarra Mercury - 18 September - Report on an Aboriginal burial exposed in a midden on the western side of Hill 60 as part of the excavations for a local school.

1966 - NPWS site 52-2-59 at Red Point.

1954 - Port Kembla Golf Club ceases operation in the vicinity of Hill 60.

1950 - 20 April - a Defence Reserve is gazetted at Hill 60.

1942 - September - The Department of Defence forces Aboriginal people off Hill 60 and resumes the land from the New South Wales government. Houses are subsequently burnt .

1940s - Aboriginal burial found in a dune at Red Point.

1936 - May - The Australian Museum conducts an archaeological reconnaissance of the Red Point area

1929 - The NSW Aborigines Protection Board writes to the Department of Defence in support of Aboriginal claims for security of title to land at Hill 60. "I beg to advise that a number of Aborigines who have, for many years past, been living near the town of Port Kembla, on a site known as Ti-tree Hill have been served with a closing order by the local Shire Council. My Board is prepared to help these people provided they have some sort of title to the land on which they reside ..... It is understood that a number of them have lodged applications with your Department with a view to securing some such title, and I now beg to ask that their application be, if possible, favourably considered." (Eklund, 2002)

1927 - Aborigines at Ti-tree Hill / Red Point approach Council for land title.

1923 - The Port Kembla Golf Club is formed and tries to evict the local Aboriginal people off Ti-tree Hill / Red Point.

1914 - The New South Wales Public Works Department once again tries to force the local Aboriginal people off the land about Red Point.

1909 - First Department of Defence use of land at Red Point.

1904 - The New South Wales Public Works Department tries to force the local Aboriginal people off the land about Red Point.

Coastal land at Red Point and to the north resumed by the New South Wales State government in 1900 in connection with the development of the port of Port Kembla.

1900 - 1 September - The New South Wales government resumes Red Point for the work associated with the transformation of Tom Thumb's Lagoon into Port Kembla harbour.

1892 - Red Point becomes known as Port Kembla.

1881 - The first jetty is erected north of Red Point to service the Mount Kembla coal mine.

Illawarra Lake, engraving after a view by John Skinner Prout, January 1844. View looking south west from atop Hill 60 towards Lake Illawarra .

1844 - January - the English artist John Skinner Prout, during a visit to the Illawarra. takes a view from the top of Illowra looking south west towards Lake Illawarra, with an elderly Aboriginal man sitting in the foreground. This work is later reproduced as an engraving.

1835 - Conrad Martens takes a pencil sketch looking south from the top of Red Point.

1826 - Captain Bishop briefly sets up a military encampment on the Allan property at Red Point.

1816 - December - David Allan granted 2,200 acres of land which includes Red Point.

1816 - April to May - a military camp is briefly set up on Red Point, in association with the first geographical surveys of the region.

1796 - Saturday 26 March / Sunday 27 March - Bass and Flinders arrive at Red Point in the Tom Thumb. Flinders refers to it in his journal as Saddle Point: "...The coast continued to be low and sandy with rocky heads at intervals; but ended in a projecting point, upon which is four eminences, forming a kind of double saddle. This point bounded our view to the southward, though not above two miles distant. At a small distance off this Saddle Point lies another island much larger than the other two, and as such gave us greater hopes of shelter for the night began now to make its appearance, with its usual concommitant cold; which, in our wet condition, was a very unwelcome visitor..... we therefore pulled round Saddle Point, which, by falling back some distance, afforded shelter from the northerly breeze..." They spend the night anchored off the point in their boat, then the following morning are haled by some Aborigines with the offer of fish and water. They row into shore to accept their offer, but do not land, concerned that the large number of local people is a threat to their safety. They sail away and land on the beach on the north side of Saddle Point, where they dry out their clothes, cook their fish, and meet up with two Aborigines from Broken and Botany Bays. They later sail south and enter the entrance of Lake Illawarra where they have an encounter with the local people.

1770 - Wednesday, 25 April - Captain Cook sails north along the Illawarra coast in the Endeavour and gives Illowra the name Red Point. "....8 leagues to the northward of this is a point which I calld Red Point, some part of the land about it appeared of that colour....." (Cook's Journal)

3,000 year before present - earliest identified age for one of the midden deposits at Illowra (Hill 60).

3,000 years before present - Lake Illawarra attains its present form.

17,000 years before present - evidence of occupation of Bass Point by Aboriginal people.


Names


References

Dallas, M., Hill 60, 'Port Kembla - Conservation Management Plan', Report to Wollongong City Council and the Department of Land and Water Conservation, October 2000.

Eklund, E.C., Steel Town - The Making and Breaking of Port Kembla, Melbourne University Press, 2002, 236p.

Organ, M.K, Illawarra and South Coast Aborigines - 1770-1850, University of Wollongong, 1991, 649p.

Reynolds, D.K., A History of the land purchased for the building of the Port Kembla Steelworks, BHP Flat Products, Port Kembla, January 2001, 59p.


Compiled by Michael Organ. Site last updated: 22 August 2006. Return to Michael Organ's Home Page. Any comments, corrections, or additions to this site are most welcome.