Sacred history made on GKI after 116 years of waiting
THE past weekend will go down in the history of Great Keppel Island as the day the Woppaburra sacred Inkils (Woman's) Wailing Stone was respectfully bought back to Woppa - (Great Keppel Island) for the first time in 116 years.
Spokesperson Michael Powell said the stone was taken with the last group of Woppaburra to be forcibly removed from their homelands in 1902.
"The then keeper of the stone had been sent to work in a sugar plantation on a Byfield property where the stone then laid forgotten for generations," Mr Powell said.
"It was rediscovered during a shed clearance in Byfield four-years-ago and is now back in the possession of its rightful owners."
Mr Powell said following the Queensland Government mandated demolition of part of the old resort by Tower Holdings Pty Ltd earlier this year, Woppaburra Elders returned to the island on Saturday for a culturally appropriate healing ceremony necessary to lay to rest the spirits of the ancestors whose burial place was disturbed during the recent demolition works on GKI.
"No politicians were in attendance," he said.
"The Federal approvals of Tower's development require that the Heritage-listed homestead be restored for use as a museum to house any such relics.
"In November 2015, Tower Holdings spokesperson Anthony Aiossa announced the homestead restoration was almost complete and would open within weeks.
"The museum did not open as promised, the building had hardly been touched and no restoration work carried out on the heritage site since then.
"The stone was therefore unable to remain on the island on this occasion, but the hope is it that it can eventually be housed permanently in the promised museum."
Elder Aunty Glenice said Konomie - (North Wind) came and encircled the group as they reached their ancestor's resting place and their ancestors presence was felt by Woppaburra.
"I am so proud of my son Shane and grandsons Aaden, Tyson and Oliver who performed the smoking ceremony and nieces Jewels Rogers, her daughter Kath Waria and another niece Naomie for performing the ochre ceremony." she said.
The event was well attended and officers from the Native Title Office in Brisbane travelled to GKI to witness the ceremony.
The rituals attracted the interest of tourists from all over the world, including a group from Canada who have been very involved with Native Yukon Tribes over there.
Mr Powell said the Canadians remarked more than once how moved they were by the actual ceremony and the organisation that had gone into it.
"A Cultural Heritage Management plan must be signed off on by the Woppaburra before any further work can be carried out on the development," he said. "The next step is for all stakeholders to have discussions as to what will happen to the sacred burial place under the footings of the old resort on Fisherman's Beach."