Wednesday, 6 April 2022
More than 40 years after Mungo Man, Mungo Lady, and the ancestral remains of 106 others were removed from their resting places, the Australian Government has approved their reburial on Country.
The reburial of Mungo Man and Mungo Lady holds immense cultural and spiritual significance to the Barkindji/Paakantji, Mutthi Mutthi and Ngiyampaa people.
Heritage Minister James Griffin has welcomed this decision and supports the reburial to be facilitated through Heritage NSW and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, in accordance with the wishes of traditional owners.
While the discovery of Mungo Man and Mungo Lady helped scientists establish that Aboriginal people have been in Australia for more than 42,000 years, it’s time to let their spirits rest in peace.
The remains of Mungo Man, Mungo Lady and 106 others were discovered in Willandra Lakes and Lake Mungo between 1960 and 1980, and removed without permission from traditional owners. While the remains were returned to traditional owners by academic institutions, they haven’t been able to rebury their ancestors on country in Mungo National Park without Australian Government approval. Mungo National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and reburial is considered a ‘controlled action’ that requires approval under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
This reburial project has been the subject of extensive community consultation, facilitated by Heritage NSW staff working with community and other government agencies. A summary of the public submissions received is available here.
Photo: Robert Kelly conducting smoking ceremony - credit Alex Pike, Department of Planning and Environment