Publication Details

Glenn Mitchell and Michael Organ, Re-imagining Sandon Point, Re-imagining Australia: Encounter, Recognition, Responsibility, International Australian Studies Association (InASA) conference, Maritime Museum of Western Australia, Fremantle, 7-9 December 2016.


When a housing development at Sandon Point north of Wollongong NSW obliterated country that has spiritual, political and economic significance for generations of indigenous people, the consequences were dramatic. Protests and court cases followed. This paper explores loss by imagining life at this place long before land clearing and concrete pours took place. The paper draws on the destroyed evidence of early indigenous life, written colonial accounts, paintings and drawings as well as indigenous memory. It argues that the evidence courts and developers rejected as central to Sandon Point’s indigenous history, has contributed to its contemporary definition as a significant indigenous place. When objectors took the housing project to court, proceedings uncovered significant evidence that affirmed extensive indigenous life at Sandon Point. However, loss of indigenous heritage was not confined to the construction of houses. Building work uncovered evidence of indigenous history hidden for hundreds of years. However, it failed to stop building work and while it was in the public gaze for a time, it is now locked away in various government agencies.