Traditional Owners undertake cultural heritage survey of pipeline route

Date published: 22 December 2021

The Traditional Owners of the land identified for stage two of the Haughton Pipeline project have walked the 28km proposed pipeline route to undertake a cultural heritage survey in what marks a key milestone for the project.

The survey, undertaken in partnership with Townsville City Council, is another important and necessary step to prepare for the start of construction on the $274 million project next year.

Bindal Elder Eddie Smallwood said the cultural heritage survey and monitoring undertaken along the route of the pipeline ensured cultural respect was maintained and gave traditional owners an opportunity to get back on country.

“The land of the Bindal people extends from the Ross River in Townsville to the Burdekin River,” Mr Smallwood said.

“Through that area, our people have been looking after the land and sea for thousands of years.

“The survey will allow us to make recommendations to Council on any culturally significant areas along the proposed route of the pipeline.”

Bindal Elder Frederick Stanley said the cultural heritage survey was also a way to engage young people.

“We usually get an Elder to go with a younger person, that way they get knowledge and experience of country and get educating on the cultural significance of the land and everything around it,” Mr Stanley said.

Mayor Jenny Hill said Council respected the Traditional Owners’ custody of the land.

“Australia is home to the oldest continuous culture in the world, Aboriginal Australians, who have been living on and caring for these lands for thousands of years,” Cr Hill said.

“Engaging with the Traditional Owners of the land to be used for the pipeline is an important step in delivering this vital project.

“Council has signed a Cultural Heritage Management Agreement with the Bindal People and their advice will be crucial for the project going forward.”

Cr Hill said the pipeline project remained on-track and was progressing well.

The pipeline will be able to transfer up to 364 megalitres of water per day from the Burdekin River near Clare to the top of the Ross River Dam at Toonpan near Woodstock.

“This piece of infrastructure will provide water security for Townsville for the next 50-80 years and we will do it right,” she said.

“It realises the recommendation made by the Townsville Water Security Taskforce’s final report of November 2018 that a pipeline be constructed between the Ross River Dam and the Burdekin River near Clare to enable the dam level to be managed to best deliver water to the city.”

The Queensland Government is providing up to $195 million in funding for the project.

Minister for Resources and Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the project would provide a substantial economic boost for the city.

“The project is expected to support hundreds of jobs in the region, which couldn’t come at a better time as Townsville and North Queensland continue to recover from COVID-19 global pandemic,” Mr Stewart said.

“The completion of the cultural heritage survey is another important milestone in delivering this important project.

“Projects like this are complicated and detailed planning is required before you start digging trenches and that is exactly what Council is doing.”

Construction of the pipeline is currently forecast for completion by mid-2025.