In the words of District Council of Yankalilla mayor Glen Rowlands, the decision on the future of the three Little Gorge shacks was a delicate one.
After hearing all sides of the story I do not envy the councillors making the decision. So many factors were in play with so many people to keep happy – an impossible feat when there is more than one opinion that could be deemed the ‘right’ one.
There are concerns for the environment, in particular a creek which has just had a Natural Resources-approved causeway put over it so a truck empty a sewage tank installed for the shacks, and the sand dunes which were storm-damaged.
Where the shacks are has Aboriginal cultural significance: the area is in part of the Tjilbruke dreaming story, and old fish traps used by the Kaurna people are situated on the beach near the creek.
The view from the HMAS Hobart Memorial Lookout, looking over the shacks and beach and hills that roll into the sea, is a tourist hotspot, with many stopping to take photos and promote the region through the power of social media.
And, of course, there is the shacks’ historical and sentimental value to the Dickson, Raven, and Fry families. Countless memories have been made on holidays there.
One of the biggest problems for the council has been that there is no actual record of the families being given approval to build there in the first place. There was no way the council could regulate what occurred at the shacks unless it went through the development assessment panel.
That is the main idea behind putting a Section 221 agreement into play; so the council has strict rules the shack owners must abide by to ensure the future of the surrounding environment is not destroyed.
The environment there is a beautiful one, as is the case on the Fleurieu, and it is one which needs to be protected – especially when the council’s tourism slogan is ‘Made By Nature’. But the shacks have been in the area for at least 60 years, and the environment would have evolved around it.
The Kaurna people’s dreaming stories are ancient. Stories like Tjilbruke’s have been passed down through generations, and hold a special place in the hearts of the traditional owners of our country. It is important that these stories are respected and shared.
The space is a special one for all parties involved. It will be interesting to see the result when the tenure is up for renewal again in nine years’ time.