On Wednesday this week a large number of people gathered at the Lower Jordan River levee, the site of a protest against a bridge being built over a hugely significant site holding Aboriginal artefacts dating up to 40,000 years old. The people met to discuss a way forward, with surveyors and machinery due to start construction of the bridge within weeks.
The day was hot and sunny. The community sat for hours under the noon sun as they discussed the pros and cons of different courses of action, interrupted only by trips to the ice-cooled water containers and a short feed from the barbie.
There was some light relief for some in the river…
During the meeting four white men wearing hard hats and coloured vests stood above the gathering on one side of the levee bank, referring to a clipboard and gesturing towards the other side. The symbolism was immense.
After the meeting I spoke with Aaron Everett, one of the organisers of the protest and a key negotiator with the State Government on behalf of the Aboriginal community. He and his people still found it astounding that money could not be found to divert the road by a few hundred metres to protect the site. And they refuse to believe that a negotiated outcome, with which both sides are happy, cannot be found.
But everyone is prepared for action if a negotiated outcome cannot be found. And at this stage that is not looking likely.
Later, when most people had returned home to reflect on the meeting and what it might mean, I returned to the site to find the ever-smoking fire and some exhausted community members. It had clearly been a trying day for many reasons. However, as is often the case there were a few little people who still had the energy for some drumming and dancing…
Watch this space.