Little Wilgie Ochre Mine near Cue heritage-listed due to Aboriginal cultural significance

Jessica MoroneyMidwest Times
Heritage Minister David Templeman says listing Little Wilgie Ochre Mine will help incorporate Aboriginal history.
Camera IconHeritage Minister David Templeman says listing Little Wilgie Ochre Mine will help incorporate Aboriginal history. Credit: Justin Benson-Cooper/The West Australian

One of the oldest mining sites in WA — dating back 40,000 years and full of rich Aboriginal mining history and cultural significance — is now on the State Register of Heritage Places.

The site on Wajarri Yamatji land in the Shire of Cue is a significant part of Aboriginal history and provides research opportunities and a better understanding of Aboriginal life in the Weld Range before colonisation.

Little Wilgie Ochre Mine has been a site of mining and trade of red ochre by Aboriginal people for thousands of years and demonstrates food processing, tool manufacture and mining techniques, as well as trade.

It is one of the only sites in the world where Indigenous mining had worked alongside commercial mining operations.

Traditional Owner and custodian Colin Hamlett said it was a good thing the ochre mine has been included in the State Register of Heritage Places.

“Such a significant and important site for the Wajarri People needs to have all the levels of protection possible,” he said.

According to local Aboriginal tradition, the great Marlu Dreaming ancestor was wounded by an evil spirit and the blood was left in two locations — where the kangaroo was injured and where it died, creating the red ochre.

Wajarri Yamatji Aboriginal Corporation CEO Graham O’Dell said the ochre site had been used by Wajarri Yamatji People for thousands of years and was one of very few such sites in WA.

“It is important that sites are protected for Wajarri People in particular but also for all Australians,” Mr O’Dell said.

Heritage Minister David Templeman said the heritage decision was a “part of our journey towards incorporating Aboriginal history into the history of the State”.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails