The view over Lake Weyba.
The view over Lake Weyba.

'Who will maintain it?': MP rejects murder memorial plea

CALLS to have a memorial built as a permanent reminder of the massacre of indigenous people at Lake Weyba have been openly rejected by one Sunshine Coast MP.

And while it has the support of Lyndon Davis of the Gubbi Gubbi, it received a lukewarm response from other Sunshine Coast politicians.

Member for Noosa, Glen Elmes, the former Minister of Indigenous Affairs, has openly rejected the idea.


Noosa MP Glen Elmes.
Noosa MP Glen Elmes. contributed

He said the name Murdering Creek Road, which led towards Lake Weyba off the Sunshine Motorway, was "all the memorial we need".

"The appropriate memorial is to make sure the name of the road doesn't change," Mr Elmes said.

"If you put a memorial plaque, a statue or something, where do you put it, who pays for it, who maintains it, who designs it?

"Before you know what's happening it will have grass growing up around it and no one knows it is there.

"We should never deny our history, we should learn from it, particularly in those local schools in the area."

Mr Elmes said there was a "heritage side" to the State Government that took heritage matters like this "very seriously".

The Daily contacted the Environment and Heritage Department to inquire whether a request had been made to research the history of the massacre at Lake Weyba.

It was referred on.

"Our department doesn't seem to be able to answer your questions, so we suggest you talk to DATSIP (the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Partnerships)", a EHP spokeswoman said.

Lyndon Davis, of the Gubbi Gubbi people, said a memorial was necessary.


Lyndon Davis of the Gubbi Gubbi people.
Lyndon Davis of the Gubbi Gubbi people. John McCutcheon

Mr Davis's wife, Nicky, spoke on behalf of her husband, who was recovering from intensive surgery.

"It would be good to have memorial at the site," she said.

Mrs Davis said every town you visited in Australia had a "Lest we forget" statue, yet there were so few reminders of what happened to the first owners of the land.

"In every single town we go to there is a memorial that says 'lest we forget', but when it comes to indigenous culture, people say 'that was so long ago, get over it'.

"We cannot swipe out our history. Blood was spilt on this land. A hundred year war raged this land, but this history has been brushed under a rug to pretend it didn't happen.

"If you ask young kids to talk about wars, they talk about the Vietnam War, the World Wars, but so little is known about the Australian wars."

Ms Davis said it should be more than a simple statue or a plaque, it should provide "education around it".

"Lyndon's grandmother was pushed off the land. People need to see the whole picture.

"It's not just about the massacre, it's the history of the Aboriginal reserve."

Ms Davis said there were "massacre sites all over the Coast" yet not one had been properly recognised.

"We have to realise it happened. We need to acknowledge the mental, physical and spiritual health of indigenous people has been affected by it.

"There is a lot of healing to be done, a lot of damage has been done."

Mr Elmes said the nearest indigenous settlement to the Sunshine Coast was in Cherbourg.

"I imagine you would find the Aboriginal people who lived in the area obviously in a great number were murdered and killed," he said.

"The nearest indigenous settlement is Cherbourg as a number of clans finished up there. That's what we did, Europeans, all those years ago.

"People were moved long distances."

Mr Elmes said the name Murdering Creek Road was an "opportunity to draw attention to history".

It was the "job of local historical association" to explain how it got its name.

"It is a matter of talking to local indigenous people and making sure their story and knowledge of what happened there is written down so we don't lose it," he said.

"They must make sure it is captured so you can find it, whether you go into a Queensland Museum, or a website."

Other Sunshine Coast politicians suggested they would support the idea, but with conditions.

Sunshine Coast Councillor Steve Robinson, in whose area Lake Weyba and Peregian West falls, said he would support it if this was the will of the Gubbi Gubbi people and if the council had provisions for it.

Member for Fairfax Ted O'Brien said he would also support it if the people who lived around Lake Weyba and the indigenous people supported it.

Former Peregian West resident Roselys Blaich said she didn't initiate the call for the change to the name Murdering Creek Road.

"I simply stated my view that the event, time and place should be historically accurate and recognised appropriately and truthfully and be formally acknowledged by a memorial that educates and recognises the importance of the event," she said.

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