Alice Springs (Australie): Comprehensive mapping of Aboriginal sacred sites

Rosa Ellen

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6978018 3x2 340x227Registered sacred site Alice Springs - ABC News: Rosa Ellen

The most comprehensive mapping to date of Aboriginal sacred sites in Alice Springs has been completed in order to bring the National Broadband Network to the desert town.

The town has one of the most densely populated areas of sacred sites in the country and it took a team of anthropologists and Central Arrernte traditional owners two years to fully map sites that the fixed-line underground cables of the NBN needed to avoid.

"We have to look at all of the existing records of sacred sites, we have to map up all the historical records with everything people have been saying about them before with what people are saying about them today," the Aboriginal Area Protection Authority's said.

More than 600 sites within the town's boundaries are on the map, which is not available for public viewing because of the sensitivities of the sites which include trees, rock formations and soaks.

Early anthropologists including Sir Walter Spencer, Francis James Gillen and Olive Pink recorded sites of Aboriginal significance well before the town became the size it is today, but Dr Creighton said exact locations needed to be recorded.

Her team worked with traditional owners from Mbantua and Undoolya to update the existing sacred sites map.

"What happens in towns like Katherine, Nhulunbuy, Alice Springs, Darwin, is that because of the intensity of development you actually have to go about the mapping exercise down to the metre," Dr Creighton said.

The Alice Springs NBN will be switched on in the first quarter of 2016, with the rollout not expected to take more than six months, according to NBN Co.

Sky Muster, a satellite which provides internet to remote communities, is set to begin operation in the middle of next year.