ORAL HISTORY RECORDING OF ‘CORNISHTOWN’
In FY22, we facilitated an oral history recording of what life was like in ‘Cornishtown’. A historic mining settlement near our Peak Mine, Cornishtown was identified as having cultural significance to the local community following ongoing extensive consultation with Registered Aboriginal Parties, the Cobar Local Aboriginal Land Council and the Ngemba – Ngiyampaa – Wangaaypuwan and Wayilwan Native Title Claimants in FY21.
Our commitment to protecting and preserving our First Nations’ history demonstrates how we are helping to ensure the absolute protection of Indigenous cultural heritage.
The town of Cobar, close to our Peak Mine, has a proud mining history. The Great Cobar Copper Mine was the largest copper mine in Australia between 1870 and 1920. At its peak in 1912, Great Cobar boasted 14 smelters, a 64m chimney stack and employed over 2,000 people.
As part of our proposed New Cobar development, we’re looking to access ore zones below the historical Great Cobar Copper Mine. Extensive cultural heritage consultation has taken place as a part of this proposed development; the ungazetted area of Cornishtown was identified as a place of cultural significance during this process.
We facilitated a cultural recording of the town given its significance to our First Nations people. Environment and Social Responsibility Officer, Laura Barnes spoke about the recording.
“In June, Company representatives were joined at the historic remains of Cornishtown by Tyrone Griffiths, Violet Betcke and Peter Griffith – First Nations people who grew up in the town.
“As we wandered down the remains of the main street, they shared stories of their childhood and what it was like growing up in Cornishtown. The village had no power or sewage, and the water supply was from a local farm dam to the east of town. They recalled the dam being a source of entertainment for local kids, riding bikes down the walls, wetting the slope and making a mud slide, using sheets of iron to make canoes to paddle around.
“Walking with them, you could feel their sense of community as they spoke about the mix of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people who used to live in the town, many of whom are still friends to this day,” Laura recalled.
“As Cornishtown was ungazetted, it was eventually demolished by the local council, an event they recounted with great sadness. The history and culture of Cornishtown lives on today through their memories, and the memories of other First Nations people.
“Preserving historical accounts such as these is a way Aurelia helps to share the histories of our First Nations people broadly, and how we actively participate in the perseveration of the oldest, continuous living cultures on earth,” Laura concluded.