10 May 2023

Respect our country, says Alnigth Traditional Owner

| Matt Nicholls
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Before … Ernest Madua Jnr stands in front of a pandanus tree at Gonbung, where you can see tracks in the sand dunes.

NAPRANUM resident and Alnigth Traditional Owner Ernest Madua Jnr says he doesn’t want to ban cars and quad bikes from driving on the beaches around Weipa, but has called on locals to show more respect for his people’s Country.

The Gonbung beach area is a popular fishing destination for families and for viewing sunsets across Albatross Bay.

Mr Madua said too many people were doing the wrong thing by driving up the sand dunes near the pandanus trees, which he said were sacred in his culture.

“The pandanus tree represents the cyclone story of my great, great grandfather,” he said.

“It’s important that we look after them because something bad will happen if we don’t.”

Mr Madua said as part of the cyclone story, Weipa would be hit by a massive storm if something were to happen to the trees.

After … A team from Rio Tinto Weipa responded to Mr Madua’s calls and moved rock and soil to protect the trees.

“We haven’t had a big cyclone here before and that’s because of the trees here,” he said.

“When we get silly buggers doing things like this and causing damage to the sand dunes near the trees, it hurts me and my family.”

Mr Madua said he spoke with Rio Tinto about the issue and the mining company was quick to respond.

“I spoke with Shona (Markham) and the team were very supportive,” he said.

“They sent out a team to help protect the trees.”

Mr Madua said he didn’t want people to stop going to Gonbung.

“It’s a special place and everyone should be able to enjoy it. But we just want you to do the right thing,” he said.

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