Cultural heritage signs In country March 2012 James Price Point

In order to ensure that Woodside and all its contractors cannot claim ignorance as a defense to prosecution, the Goolarabooloo people in association with the Walmadan Protectors and the Broome Community NO Gas Campaign have erected Cultural Welcoming to Country and Informational Signs throughout Country. These signs clearly notify, advise, confirm and ensure that everyone is aware that the intertidal zone, Holocene sand dune system and the fringing Monsoonal Vine Thickets (Remnant Rainforest) on the west side of Manari Road are all part of one continuous, uninterrupted spiritually distinctive Song Cycle path.

This Song Cycle has been previously identified by the WA Museum and the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee established under the Aboriginal Heritage Act as an area containing a large number of Aboriginal Sites. Removal or damage to these signs is also considered an offence.

Woodside in their most recent planning and development application to the Development Assessment Panel within the WA Planning Commission clearly outlined their intentions of using mechanical equipment, soil and core sampling, drilling, mechanical digging, earthmoving, cutting of countless tracks and undertaking major ground-disturbance works within registered sites of Walmadan, Imbalala, Kundandu, Murdudan, and directly affecting Murrjal and Wayirru Wayirru and numerous unregistered sites alongthe Somg Cycle path. Particular crucial concerns are held about Woodside's proposed tampering and traversing of the Song Cycle path that has never been fragmented or intruded on or in ever before.

The Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee (ACMC) concluded on the 11th July 1991 "All areas defined as the Song Cycle Path are regarded as having important and significant because of the interconnected nature of this network of totemic significances". "The areas have significance under Section 39 2(a) and (c) and 39.3 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act". The area of the Song Cycle path was accepted as being defined in accordance with Aboriginal Customary law. The ACMC concluded the "no exploration activity should occur on the areas defined as the song Cycle".

The Heritage Act provides a comprehensive list of the types of placed to which the Act applies. As defined in section 5 of the Heritage Act, an Aboriginal site can be:

a) Any place of importance and significance where persons of Aboriginal descent have left any object used for any purpose connected with the past or present traditional cultural life of Aboriginal people.
b) Any sacred. Ritual or ceremonial site, which is of importance and special significance to Aboriginal people.
c) Any place the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee thinks is or was associated with Aboriginal people and is of such historical, anthropological or ethnographic value that it should be preserved; and
d) Any place where objects are traditionally stored or places from which objects to which the Heritage Act applies have been removed.

It is an offence under section 17 of the Heritage Act to damage, destroy, etc an Aboriginal site. However, Section 62 of the Heritage Act provides that if a person charged with such an offence can prove that he or she did not know, and could not reasonably be expected to have known, that the place or object to which the charge relates was a place or object to which the Heritage Act applies, then the person is not guilty of the offence.