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EDITORIAL: A need for balance

There are no ifs or buts. A workable collaboration that leaves all groups with some form of victory must ultimately prevail amid issues surrounding Mt Arapiles at Natimuk.

If an assessment of discovery of a major historical quarry dating back tens of thousands of years at the mountain park proves to be true, it must lead to the benefit of all involved – past and present. Everyone!

In fact, the development represents a value-adding socio-economic and cultural opportunity that would border on being criminal if all involved get the formula wrong. 

There seems little doubt Mt Arapiles is home to historically and culturally significant sites. There is also little doubt the rock is an international rock-climbing magnet providing life-blood to a community.

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As Australians we have a duty to fiercely protect sites that reflect significant cultural history and connections. But this is a broad brush and society works hard these days to establish a belief that no culture is more important than another. It would be as wrong to discount a unique and vibrant rock-climbing culture that has evolved in Natimuk district during the past 60 years – as it would be to disregard the significance of a culture stemming from thousands of years ago.

Critically, both are alive and vibrant today and their preservation important, albeit for different core reasons.

Make no mistake – take meaningful rock-climbing out of Natimuk and you rip the heart out of one of the most culturally and artistically diverse regional towns in Australia. Ignore the significance of ancient sites that provide invaluable practical and spiritual insight and connections into our origins and you deny a nation of part of its soul.

We must avoid a ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ outcome and work hard to always engage a ‘we’ instead of an ‘us and them’ approach. We’ll say again and again – people are people!

This issue cannot be about philosophical positioning, righting wrongs, making claims or taking defiant stands with blanket bans and-or angry protests – from anyone involved. 

It’s about all parties having a willingness to be open to benevolent collaboration and identifying the best ways forward.

Underpinning it all, from the start, will be an acknowledgment of a need for general respect.

Peer-assessed legitimacy, whether it be based on archaeological or socio-economic, cultural and even tourism-market research is also a must.

Get everything out of kilter and we risk feeding illogical racial division between people that, in modern times at least, has been a notable absentee from one of the great natural attractions of the region.

It is NAIDOC Week, which is a timely reminder of a need for magnanimity.

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The entire November 11, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!