The Kuradji burial site is one of the three most important Aboriginal burial sites yet discovered in Australia. The Kuradji himself may be 6000 years old- twice as ancient as the Egyptian Pharaohs & three times as ancient as the Roman Forum. The land at Sandon Point-McCauleys Beach holds a record of human activity and culture, dated to at least 6000 years ago- rare in the world.

The archaeological and anthropological significance of Sandon Point cannot be overstated. It has been the traditional meeting, trading and ceremonial place for people from far-flung regions, both coastal and inland, for tens of thousands of years.

"There is an important dreaming track that runs up Bulli Pass. Sandon Point is part of that dreaming track." (Reuben Brown, Elouera elder) This track is also known as the Throsby Track. Charles Throsby was brought down this track by local people in 1817. His 'discovery' resulted in European settlement of the Illawarra region.

It comes as no surprise then, given such intensive use, that this land is dense with artefacts, middens and burial sites. This would seem to be the reason why Stockland has deliberately and methodically avoided a comprehensive Aboriginal heritage study from being carried out on its land. The Kuradji site and surrounding sites remain both inadequately researched and protected due to collusive behaviour and bureaucratic incompetence. As a matter of course, the land the Kuradji was found on should have been resumed from Sydney Water through NPWS's "burial site buyback" policy. Instead the land was covertly sold to Stockland without the required consultation of various authorities.

Numerous skeletons on the lands in question have been uncovered by heavy seas. During the laying of sewer pipes by the Water Board in the 1970s, eyewitnesses concur that up to 8 graves were exhumed. A further two burials were found by local brothers, Kim and Tony Stephenson, who were walking along McCauley's Beach after large storms in 1974 and 1998. Their uncle had also come across a skull during the 1950s.

The Stephensons' 1998 find was archaeologically excavated. Photographs of the grave site, documenting the dig, were taken. (Due to cultural protocol, it may not be possible for these powerful images to be reproduced.) However, enough people (including TV media) attended the dig, and have subsequently viewed the photos to attest to the significance of the grave. (After scientific examination, the entire grave was relocated nearby, to a safer, secret location.)

The skeleton proved to be the perfectly undisturbed ceremonial grave of a man recognized by elders to be of great cultural significance- a sacred 'Kuradji' (similar to a shaman). His burial took place up to 6000 years ago.

Nearby, a preliminary dig by Stockland's archaeologists found a tool workshop site which yielded 1000 relics from a few small pits. This site's precise location had already been indicated by local elder, Reuben Brown. After the dig, the archaeologists took the relics away. It wasn't until National Parks was ordered by the Land And Environment Court, that 7 months later, the relics' whereabouts were revealed and they were allowed to be examined by Aboriginal stakeholders for the first time.

The world's most ancient culture still in existence is that of Australia's indigenous people. Local elders know of many more burial and cultural sites at Sandon Point. Should it be left to the bulldozers to unearth and destroy them? Or has the time come to recognise and treasure this site of world importance that sits on our doorstep? Other nations value and respect their history- we should too.

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