Major Roads Projects Victoria has failed to find any evidence of mortuary trees along the Western Highway, after completing detailed inspections.
The statement comes as a response to the Djab Wurrung media release from last Wednesday.
The release said Major Roads Projects Victoria went to cut down an old growth tree, possible mortuary tree, in the 3.8km stretch of land signed over to them in late 2019.
"The tree was located within the 3.8km area and Djap Wurrung protectors stood underneath the branches of the tree on the Djap Wurrung side of the boundary to prevent its destruction," the release read.
"MRPV told the protectors that the tree was to be cut today and were seen assessing its significance by inserting a camera down the hollow."
Djab Wurrung Embassy's Chelsea Ahern said it was likely the remains of ancestors were buried within the 400-year-old tree.
"There are a variety of culturally appropriate methods to identify mortuary trees including soil analysis in a laboratory," she said.
"MRPV's methods for assessing cultural significance today completely disregards and offends Djap Wurrung heritage.
"I'm prepared to do whatever it takes for my kids, my culture and future generations."
A Major Roads Projects Victoria spokesperson said the detailed inspections included the use of an endoscopic camera, and were conducted by traditional owners, arborists and archaeologists.
"These investigations have found no evidence of mortuary trees along the Western Highway between Beaufort and Stawell," the spokesperson said.
"Work is continuing on the 3.85km section of the upgrade as agreed with representatives of the protest group including Jidah Clark, Merikki Onus, Sandra Onus and Majorie Thorpe.
"These works involve some tree removal which is taking place with the consent of Eastern Maar and Martang, and under the supervision of representatives from Martang and Eastern Maar."
Previous Western Highway stories:
- Activists conducted sit-in at Dobie where Western Highway works are taking place
- Ararat police call for good behaviour between protesters and the community
- Djab Wurrung await decision judge's decision over Western Highway project
- Lawyers gear up for another Western Highway legal challenge
- Western Highway activists asked to vacate land
- Western Highway activists' eviction notice yet to be actioned
- Western Highway delay impacts not clear
- Buangor man discusses real impacts of highway delay
- Speed limit restricted at the Western Highway duplication protest site
- Tree removal to begin along Western Highway duplication project outside Ararat
- Highway protesters claim moratorium on tree removal
- Activists blockade Western Highway duplication at Ararat | Photos
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox each Friday morning from The Ararat Advertiser. To make sure you're up-to-date with all the news from across the Ararat shire, sign up here.