Protesters offered peace deal

By Jane Holroyd
April 10, 2006 - 4:05PM

Robbie Thorpe Jr conducts a smoking ceremony before allowing journalists into Camp Sovereignty.
Photo: Simon O'Dwyer

"People need to know there was culture here before the white man invaded."

Mr Thorpe said the fire at the camp was sacred and should be kept burning. "It's more than an eternal flame boxed in by concrete. This is a sacred fire.

"There's a process to look after this fire. Aboriginal people need to be trained to look after it and maintain it."

But Melbourne City Council's David Wilson told that the council wanted the fire moved to another location.

In response to Mr Thorpe's demands for a stone house to be erected in Kings Domain, Mr Wilson said: "My comment is that it would not be granted.''

Mr Wilson said that Melbourne City Council was more interested in hearing directly from the traditional owners of the Kulin nation. He said elders from Boonerwrung and Wurundjeri tribes had also been invited to tonight's meeting.

"There are no tribal leaders at (Camp Sovereignty)," Mr Wilson said. "Those at the camp are from elsewhere. We need to talk to tribal leaders about what they want in Kings Domain, if they want anything at all."

Earlier, Robbie Thorpe responded to criticism from Wurundjeri elder Ian Hunter that Camp Sovereignty was a "disgrace'' and had actually taken the Aboriginal people's cause a step backwards.

Mr Thorpe said Kings Domain was not Wurundjeri land, but a traditional meeting place for Aboriginal people from many different tribes. "The Wurundjeri are from up near Healesville,'' he said.

He said Boonerwrung elder Caroline Briggs had granted the campers permission to set up their tents and light the sacred fire., with AAP