Mt Warning tours may make it safer for walkers.
Mt Warning tours may make it safer for walkers. Nikki Todd

Indigenous education will lead to safety at Mt Warning, elder says

SAFETY improvements to Wollumbin National Park, also known as Mt Warning, were considered at a consultative meeting following the lightning death of a tourist atop the summit earlier this month.

National Parks and Wildlife Service staff and indigenous people with a cultural interest in Wollumbin among others met on Tuesday for their last meeting of the year, where they acknowledged the tragic death of an American tourist killed by lightning on the mountain on December 5.

In a statement, NPWS said the group endorsed its enhanced safety messaging around the park and online as well as reaffirmed the Aboriginal community's desire for people not climb the sacred peak.

Group member Jackie McDonald, a descendant of the Wollumbin tribe, said part of the meeting discussed compulsory indigenous guides to tour visitors up the mountain.

She raised concerns about the masses of trekkers visiting the site annually and it's impact on the ancient land.

Ms McDonald's calls resonate with Ngarakbal Githabal Elder, Elliot Knight - who said he knows of more than 100 incidents of trekkers getting hurt or lost on the mountain in the last 20-30 years.

"What I am trying to say is you should really get an elder to go out and show them and talk to them,” Mr Knight said.

"This is how it should be done to save people dying, getting hurt.”

The Goonellabah resident's passion for the educating people about Wollumbin is personal.

He claimed the mountain is the final resting place of his great, great-granddad King Brown, of the Ngarabal Githabul moiety tribe.

Mr Knight said breaking down cultural barriers to understand the indigenous history behind the mountain is crucial to improve safety on the mountain.

In a statement, a NPWS spokesman said: "there are many individuals within the Bundjalung Nation who have knowledge and information about the mountain and the NPWS respects this.”

"Wollumbin is a very significant place to the local Aboriginal people of the Tweed Valley and surrounding areas as for thousands of years the mountain has been used for teaching of cultural knowledge, spirituality and cultural lore,” the spokesman said.

In relation to cultural heritage matters raised by Mr Knight, the spokesman said they need to be considered by the Wollumbin Consultative Group.

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