Mortuary tree along Western Highway between Beaufort and Stawell debate

No evidence of mortuary trees along Western Highway, says authority

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."

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This story No evidence of mortuary trees along Western Highway, says authority first appeared on The Wimmera Mail-Times.