This online engagement was hosted on YourSAy from 4 August to 1 September 2020. Below is a record of the engagement.
Ancient Land Tours Pty Ltd has sought the authorisation to help enable a series of guided commercial tours within Koonalda Cave, an Aboriginal rock art and archaeological site located some 400 km west of Ceduna.
Minor modifications to the cave and surrounds are proposed to facilitate safe access for guided visitors. These include the installation and/or upgrading of anchor points and minor repairs to existing steps and ladders.
The application area covers the entirety of the Koonalda Cave doline (sinkhole); a 20 metre wide zone extending from the lip of the doline; and designated sections of the cave (including floors, walls and ceilings) accessible via previously established trails.
Access to the areas known as the ‘Art Chamber’ and ‘The Ramparts’, which contain significant Aboriginal art and engravings, is not proposed.
The key aspects of the proposal are:
- the tour route inside the cave will be confined to previously established tracks
- access to areas that contain significant Aboriginal art and engravings will be prohibited
- tours will be limited to ten (10) people (plus guides) and to no more than one visit per week
- Ancient Land Tours Pty Ltd is seeking the authorisation for an initial 12-month period (to commence on the date of the first tour)
- if granted, the section 23 authorisation will not permit Ancient Land Tours Pty Ltd to undertake tours of the cave. A Commercial Operator Licence from the Department for Environment and Water will also be required before any tours commence.
To reduce the impact the proposal may have on Aboriginal heritage within the cave, Ancient Land Tours Pty Ltd:
- proposes to engage a Mirning person to accompany all tours of the cave to ensure adequate cultural interpretation of Aboriginal heritage
- is committed to liaising with its key stakeholders about the cave’s conservation, protection and management
- will ensure that visitors are accompanied by experienced cave guides at all times during tours to ensure their safe access and passage, and to ensure their actions inside the cave are supervised
- has confined its proposed tour route to tracks inside the cave that were constructed for past activities
- supports a condition assessment that records atmospheric conditions over an initial 12-month period (commenced in September 2019)
- acknowledges that if it obtains all relevant approvals, tours will be limited to an initial 12-month period
- will develop an induction pack that will be distributed and explained to all visitors emphasising the cultural significance of Koonalda Cave, and visitors’ obligations under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (SA) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Protection Act 1984 (Cth)
- is committed to adhering to AAR’s Aboriginal Heritage Discovery Protocols if and when any Aboriginal objects or ancestral remains are inadvertently discovered inside the cave or doline
- supports the use of non-permanent structures where possible to meet work health and safety requirements
- supports the use of non-permanent rope barrier posts that will deter visitors from straying from the tour route and protect Aboriginal heritage by keeping visitors at least two metres away from known archaeological features within the cave