Coolgardie: An Aboriginal Sacred Site, Do Not Mine!

Always I feel I look at my own anglo european culture that has to find wealth in the ground, yet increasingly I am finding wealth in the nature. When one becomes grounded in nature, no longer do you see a pile of rocks, you see a spiritual wealth that is everywhere you look. I am beginning to dream a new story and it feels real.

An Aboriginal site belonging to the Maduwonga Galagu people of Coolgardie area is being recorded by archaeologists from the Department of Indigenous Affairs.

The granite rock with a number of small stone arrangements lies deep in the bushland in the Coolgardie area (we’ve been asked not to reveal too much about the location) is known to Dorothy Dimer, a Coolgardie elder and the last living link to the site.

Mrs Dimer says her uncle lived off the land in the area for about ten years.

“All my people sort of died out. The only ones left were my uncle and my mother. They were the last two that survived. My mother went in 1949 and he went in 1959.”

“I think it a very, very special place for the people, and it must not be disturbed.”

Mrs Dimer has approached the Department of Indigenous Affairs, who’ve sent an archaeologist to record and a photograph the site. She wants the site protected from mining exploration activity.


The site was stumbled upon recently by Anna Killigrew, who lives at Koorarawalyee, west of Coolgardie.

“I think it started by going walking in the bush and seeing stones arranged in the bush and wondering what it was about, and having a sense and a feel that a place was really special and wondering why.”

Anna Killigrew approached Mrs Dimer, who remembered visiting the place and her uncle who had lived in the area.

“It was lovely that she came and let us know about it so that it can be protected,” Mrs Dimer said.

“There were a lot of people that were looking for this place. It should be left with no disturbance.”

Anna Killigrew also has concerns about mining activity in the area. She says she has come across unauthorised exploration activity.

“I do have concerns because I went to the mining registrar [in Coolgardie] and asked about people that I had heard all night drilling in the bush.”

“They wouldn’t say what they were doing and they didn’t have a miner’s right over that area. There was an application in but it hadn’t been granted, so people are drilling in areas where they don’t have a mining permit.”

On the record

With the visit from DIA staff, the site will now be flagged on a database, even before it has been mapped and placed on a register of Aboriginal sites. That means that mining companies can’t say they don’t know they have to be careful if operating in the area.

It’s not known exactly how old the site is, but it may be possible for researchers to estimate something from the lichen on some of the rocks, which grows only 1mm each year.

Mrs Dimer said she’s keen to register other sites, and she’s also working with Anna to re-establish ‘Hunt’s Track’ as a walking trail through to Boorabbin national park to the Eastern Goldfields.

Hunt’s track

Hunt’s Track, named for the explorer Charles Cooke Hunt, provided the only route into the eastern goldfields from the 1960s, making the goldrushes of the 1890s possible before the coming of the railway to Coolgardie.

It linked a series of wells and dams in arid country, and Hunt developed the track with the assistance of local Aboriginal people.

Anna Killigrew says that walking Hunt’s track could foster a reconnection with the country.

“I think it’s important for Aboriginal people to know how clever their ancestors were to live in such a remote place, and to live well in such a harsh environment. And that they lived in ways where they could have their ceremonies, and celebrate their life in the country and their life in the community.”

“To be able to remember that these things took place out there. And to be more confident about themselves because they could see their lives grounded in a whole life of ritual and importance and purpose.”

Mohandas Gandhi

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”