Indigenous groups condemn state government's Warragamba Dam sacred sites investigation

Indigenous groups say the state government is not fulfilling a promise to comprehensively investigate Indigenous sacred sites affected by the Warragamba Dam wall raising proposal.

Gundungurra Elder Aunty Sharyn Halls from Katoomba and Warragamba resident and Gundungurra woman Kazan Brown, said Infrastructure NSW consultants had only visited 19 of 45 significant Indigenous sites as part of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) being developed in response to the proposed 14m raising of the dam wall.

"Of the total land which will be impacted by the dam, only 26 per cent of it has been surveyed for Indigenous cultural artifacts and sites, despite promises and assurances in the methodology for a comprehensive survey," they say.

"We don't accept that 26 per cent is a detailed study of the Creation Story when the story covers nearly 100 per cent of the area under threat."

They say they will not consider the finding of the EIS until such time the survey is completed as per the methodology.

"The government cannot release an EIS which considers the impacts of the project on cultural heritage if they do not survey the entire area that will be destroyed.

"The impact that this proposal will have on our cultural heritage and ability to access significant Ancestral land will be devastating. It will destroy sites which are core to our Gundungurra dreaming story, 'The Journey of Gurangatch and Mirrigan', further shattering the song lines of our people," they said.

"Until the dam proposal is scrapped, we will continue to fight for our lands and our culture."

Aunty Sharyn said hundreds of sacred sites are at risk under the dam proposal.

A Water NSW spokeswoman said: "The assessments are currently being prepared with regular and ongoing consultation with Aboriginal communities.

"The information compiled and inputs received is informing the assessments, which are ongoing."

She said when in draft, the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment report will be issued to registered Aboriginal parties for consultation. The report will form part of the EIS which will be placed on public exhibition with further opportunity to provide feedback.

A march to protest the proposed raising of the Warragamba Dam wall will be held in Katoomba on Sunday, June 9.

Protest organiser Harry Burkitt, the Colong Foundation's Give a Dam campaigner, said he expected 700 people to attend the march which kicks off at 11.30am outside the Carrington Hotel.

The dam wall proposal was announced by then premier Mike Baird in June 2016 as flood mitigation in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley.