The Spit Master Plan and Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment
AHS has extensive technical expertise in Indigenous cultural heritage matters and maintains well-established relationships with Traditional Owners. This made us uniquely qualified for a complex project at The Spit on the Gold Coast.
As a large master plan project, AHS were part of a large team of consultants. We were commissioned to undertake a Cultural Heritage Assessment (CHA) to guide the development of a Master Plan for The Spit alongside the Danggan Balun (Five Rivers) People, the Department of State development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Gold Coast City Council and the Gold Coast Waterways Authority.
The purpose of the Master Plan is to revitalise The Spit and increase its tourism and employment benefits to the Gold Coast community, while improving connections to the surrounding marine environment and ensuring that the area’s sustainability values are protected.
AHS works collaboratively with Traditional Owners
The Danggan Balun (Fiver Rivers) People worked in collaboration with AHS to assess cultural heritage requirements within the project area, as management of their cultural heritage is an important aspect of the Danggan Balun People’s cultural responsibilities to their traditional country.
An initial desktop assessment by AHS revealed a vast pre and post-settlement history of Aboriginal occupation within a rich tangible and intangible cultural landscape. These findings were used to identify areas of particular interest.
This was followed by a 13-day Cultural Heritage Survey (CHS) carried out by teams comprised of AHS archaeologists and Danggan Balun Cultural Heritage Officers. These teams surveyed the entirety of The Spit on foot with targeted inspections of areas considered to have the highest potential for tangible cultural heritage finds.
During the CHS our team also gained permission to record oral histories which would contribute to interpretation strategies and outcomes for the Master Plan.
Two days of consultations with the Traditional Owners then took place between AHS Principal Consultants Ann Wallin and Benjamin Gall and Elder Graham Dillon from the Ngarang-Wal People, the endorsed Elder and Senior Cultural Heritage Officer.
Delivering the Cultural Heritage Assessment
Our CHS findings were used to create the CHA which will guide The Spit Master Plan as well as any future Cultural Heritage Management Plan. Cultural heritage is a principal matter of importance for the Master Plan and AHS is proud to have been chosen to collaborate with the other project partners.
The CHA outlined engagement strategies and protocols, assessed tangible and intangible aspects of Aboriginal cultural heritage, adopted specific management outcomes relating to objects or areas of Aboriginal cultural heritage significance, and outlined recommendations and compliance strategies for the short, medium, and long term.
The project was completed in parallel to the overall Master Planning Study which was an extremely short timeframe for such activities. AHS completed the works on time and within budget, thanks in part to our existing relationships with the Traditional Owners, including Uncle Graham Dillon.