LOCAL Aboriginal custodians of Taylors Lake have reacted with dismay to a story published in last week's Byron Shire News and Northern Star of a young Victorian couple, Hannah and Ben Bracken, planning to deliver their first baby at the lake site near Broken Head.
The lake is considered to be a sacred, women-only site by the Bundjalung people, and local custodians Robyne Kay Stone, Theresa Nicholls, Judy Kay and Delta Kay are offended their advice was not sought.
The land is controlled by the Jali Local Aboriginal Land Council, of which Delta Kay is a member, and Arakwal Elders who have campaigned for the protection of the lake. An Indigenous Land Use Agreement was made in 2008 and in the wider area there are 135 Aboriginal sites recorded. "Taylors Lake or Ti Tree Lake is the most significant Aboriginal women's site in the Byron Shire," said Delta Kay, Arakwal member.
"Other important Aboriginal sites like The Pass midden, where our people would gather and eat, and the Cape Byron bora ring, a place for ceremonies, have been damaged or destroyed.
"The lake belongs to all Bundjalung women and holds deep spiritual significance to us, and our men never go there out of respect.
"This woman speaks about her respect for Aboriginal culture but did not ask our permission. We were horrified when we saw the picture in the paper of this man in the sacred women's lake.
"We are also angry that they speak about the lake's spiritual and cultural significance to local Aboriginal people in an effort to somehow make themselves seem more spiritual.
"The lake is the same as a white man's church and they have desecrated the site by using the lake this way.
"Back when Aboriginal people were first getting a voice in the 1990s, my mother and Elder Linda Vidler used to say that the men have the whole ocean out there, swim in that, just stay away from the lake."
Ms Kay hopes that this incident can send out a broader message "to further educate locals, visitors, accommodation providers, international guests, real estate agents and the tourism industry to respect the lake's sacredness to Bundjalung women and not treat it as a tourist attraction".
She said: "We want people to learn about our culture and the work we do and we encourage them to go to our website: www.arakwal.com.au."
BSN attempted to contact the Brackens but were unsuccessful at time of going to press.
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