Power tools are believed to have been used to carve a “Christian message” into a mountain with cultural importance to Indigenous people in southeast Queensland. The area is so significant it has been at the centre of a campaign urging tourists not to climb the rock.
It’s believed the offenders trekked to the base of Mount Beerwah in the Glasshouse Mountains National Park at night, carving a message described as “clumsy and awful”.
Despite its positive Christian message, senior ranger Nat Smith described the graffiti as “a terrible act”. “It is difficult to understand the mindset of the people who did this and the lack of respect they have for the natural and cultural values of the national park,” he said.
The message scrawled deep into the rock appears to say “Jesus Saves. Just ask him.”
Why the religious graffiti is so troubling
At 556 metres Mount Beerwah is the highest peak in the Glasshouse Mountains range that holds cultural significance to the Jinibara and Kabi Kabi. Any type of marking etched into the mountain can be extremely hurtful to members of these communities.
Jinibara custodian BJ Murphy has long called for tourists to stop climbing the mountain, because their tracks are wearing a large white scar into its green surface.
“They climb up all of them, and stab on with their walking sticks and their pickaxes when they climb,” Mr Murphy told Yahoo News in 2021. “It’s pretty sad and heartbreaking really."
He renewed his call a month ago, camping at its base with a sign highlighting his concern. "It's the energy from the mountain and we're not supposed to climb it and people don't pay attention to that feeling," he told ABC.
Vandals could be fined over $500,000
Ranger Smith believes someone in the local community will be able to identify those behind the “deliberate and destructive” act.
“The rock has been here for millions of years, and environmental vandalism in our national parks is extremely disappointing.
Cutting graffiti into the rock is an offence under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act and carries penalties of up to $143,750 for individuals.
More severe fines can be issued under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 where breaches carry a maximum penalty of $431,250 or two years’ imprisonment.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the Department of Environment (DES) on (07) 5494 3983, or make an anonymous call to 1300 130 372.
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