Timeline for the destruction of the Huskisson church site.

Prelude: The Anglican Church played a long game in to sell this property. For many years it had opposed the recommended heritage listing. In 2007 the local Church Wardens circulated a carefully crafted that superficially supported retaining the Blackett Church but a careful reading shows the plan to sell the property: we do not wish to, nor should we be expected to offer outdated facilities to the community.

The Church was deconsecrated in 2017 and the Anglican Church Property Trust was, by then, well into negotiations with a prospective buyer.


September 12:  The community submits application to NSW Heritage Council and commences a petition to Shoalhaven City Council to have the property heritage listed.

September 27: The Anglican Church, through its preferred developer, Stephen Bartlett, proposes DEMOLITION of the church and other buildings on the site. Shoalhaven City Council DA18/2102

October 18: The DA is amended to remove ‘demolish and replace’ with ‘temporary’ movement of the Blacket Church to a new location on the site. 


June 4: SCC approved DA 18/2102 to demolish the Church Hall (which incorporated the original Union Church) and some old sheds and to move the 1931 Blacket church onsite.

The limited scope of works made it difficult for the planners to claim any significant destruction of trees, overshadowing etc. etc. This splitting off of preliminary work angered local understanding as it does not reflect the true intentions for the block.

Early September: over several days the original church (church hall) was demolished.

Council officers reassured the HHA that no trees could be removed without a further DA. A letter from the developer’s lawyers to SCC clearly states that the 45 degree rule applies despite the DA stipulations and furthermore that if the church is moved, its new position would permit more trees to be felled.

September 18:
5 trees cut down along Hawke Street side of block using the ‘45 degree rule’ as justification.  Ground disturbance occurred. This is when the public discovered the DA stipulation that trees to be protected and retained on the site meant very little.

It was a traumatic day, police were called by the developer.

Community members who stood by the trees were removed by police..

There was a feeling that the community had been betrayed by the developer and the SCC.

In one of the developer’s reports a surveyor reported being informed that during the demolition of the hall, two holes were filled with rubbish and covered over with soil. Anomalies were located and the report stated their size is much larger than a grave would be expected to be.

There were several requests for stop work orders and calls for an investigation of these ground disturbance issues. The HHA has been informed that investigations have taken place, but the SCC has refused to make the findings public.

October 2: Attempt to cut down the two trees believed to be the marker trees for James Golding’s burial is halted part way through the operation when Indigenous community members remonstrate. Dr. Evan Christen is arrested for climbing into one of the trees.


January 20:  SCC votes to progress developer’s Planning Proposal to rezone the site. This proposes heights up to 16 meters. SCC ignores advice of own planning staff to undertake consultation, get independent reports etc. before progressing.
133 of the 136 submissions from the community objected to this over development.

February 26: The two trees believed to be the marker trees for the burial of James Golding (King Billy) are cut down. There is a large police presence. Dr. Evan Christen and Akira Kamada are arrested for being on private property. Akira is unjustifiably assaulted by police from behind. The police and a crane are also located on private property on the laneway without any permission from the owner who protested their presence on his land.

March 23: Developer/church submit a variation to DA 18/2102 to alter the proposed location of relocated church on the site. Relocation to proposed this new location would have maximized opportunity for cutting down more trees under the ‘45 degree rule’.

Dozens of people made submissions. NOT ONE SUPPORTED THE PROPOSAL. Proposal for this variation was withdrawn.

April 30: Planning Proposal returned from State Planning requiring additional studies and investigations including a proper Ground Penetrating Radar survey and new Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment that the HHA had argued for.

December: Hunter Geophysics undertook a ground penetrating radar survey of the whole property, including the quartile owned by the Jerrinja LALC at their request.


March 31: Hunter Geophysics, ‘Geophysical Survey Report: Former Anglican Church site, Huskisson ‘found ‘a total of fifty-eight areas have been identified that are likely to be unmarked graves, along with an additional fifteen areas that may also be unmarked graves.’ [p.22]

June 29: The Shoalhaven City Council voted to ’proceed with the verification work (shallow scrapes to identify grave cuts) as recommended by Navin Officer Heritage Consultants on Lots 7 and 8 to verify the GPR survey results.’ This ‘scraping over the land requires an exepmption to Sec. 139 of the NSW Heritage Act (excavation permit). The HHA, the Jerrinja LALC and many others requested that this not be granted. (Correspondence from the HHA is here)


April 11: The new Shoalhaven City Council, elected December 2022 voted not [to] proceed with any scraping of the grounds of Huskisson Anglican Church Site to verify graves.

July 11: The owners unexpectedly withdraw the PP (Planning Proposal) from NSW Government.

Survey Pegs on Church site on the eve of the planned use of owner’s Excavation Permit.

November 15: Federal government places a temporary (30 Day) protection order over the site. (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection (Huskisson Churchyard) Emergency Declaration 2022). This is in response to the plans by owner of the land to exercise his own Excavation Permit granted him by Heritage NSW in August 2022.

December : The Commonwealth Minister for the Environment is considering making a declaration under Section 10 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 (Cth) (ATSIHP Act) for the protection and preservation of significant Aboriginal areas and objects from injury or desecration on the Huskisson Church and Burial Site.


January: Owners surrender the Excavation Permit to the State Government, surrender back the DA to move the Church within the site to Shoalhaven Council. This meant that the Federal Government could no longer act to protect the site and the owners have no permissions to do anything on the site.

The state of play as at January 2023 – no approvals for any action. Destruction can occur due to neglect or mishap.


Dilapidation of the Blacket Church is ongoing. Community requests for maintenance have been ignored. The ugly construction site remains in place despite it not being a construction site.